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Louis  Epstein 

Interviewed  by  Joel  Gardner 


Completed  under  the  auspices 

of  the 

Oral  History  Program 

University  of  California 

los  Angeles 

Copyright  (c)  1977 
The  Regents  of  the  University  of  California 

This  manuscript  is  hereby  made  available  for  research 
purposes  only.   All  literary  rights  in  the  manuscript, 
including  the  right  to  publication,  are  reserved  to  the 
University  Library  of  the  University  of  California  at 
Los  Angeles.   No  part  of  the  manuscript  may  be  quoted 
for  publication  without  the  written  permission  of  the 
University  Librarian  of  the  University  of  California 
at  Los  Angeles. 


TAPE  NUMBER:   VIII,  Side  One  (July  2,  1974) 344 

A  censorship  case:   Memoirs  of  Hecate  County — 
Herman  Mann  arrested  at  Pickwick--Court 
proceedings --Appeal  denied- -Constitutional 
uncertainties--Censorship  and  the  bookseller-- 
Pornography--Political  censorship--Pressure 
from  left  and  right--Lecturing  three  young 
Birchers--Political  philosophy--Los  Angeles 
politics . 

TAPE  NUMBER:   VIII,  Side  Two  (July  2,  1974) 369 

Paul  Lamport--Opposing  images  of  Hollywood 
Boulevard--An  embezzlement  cast — Other  Pickwick 
employees:   Herman  Mann--Ben  Latting--Lloyd 
Harkema--Bob  Bennett  and  Dick  Marshall-- 
Robert  Wettereau — A  philosophy  of  numerous 
titles--Courtesy  in  the  Pickwick--"Taking 
over  the  saloon." 

TAPE  NUMBER:   IX,  Side  One  (July  2,  1974) 394 

Bookstore  list--Bill  Smith--The  Martindales-- 
Walter  and  Virginia  Martindale--Lloyd  Severe-- 
Jewish-American  Bookstore — Ver  Brugge's — 
Lillian  Deighton--Solomon ' s  Bookstore — Harry 
Dale — Brentano's  on  Seventh  Street--Joe 
Chevalier--Hollywood  Bookstore — Harry  Wepplo. 

TAPE  NUMBER:   IX,  Side  Two  (July  15,  1974) 418 

Eugene  Bechtold--Larson ' s--Brentano ' s — 
Western  and  eastern  bookstores  contrasted-- 
Brentano's  in  Beverly  Hills,  1974 — Adco — 
De  Vorss--C.U.  Branch — Selling  door-to-door — 
Peggy  Christian--M.  Harelick. 

TAPE  NUMBER:   X,  Side  One  (July  15,  1974) 442 

Mel  Royer--Acres  of  Books — Harry  Levinson — 
Jack  E.  Reynolds--Max  Hunley — Kurt  Schwarz-- 
Howard  and  Reese--The  Perkinses--The  Yales — 
The  Needhams, 


TAPE  NUMBER:   X,  Side  Two  (July  15,  1974) 466 

An  attempt  to  unionize  Pickwick--Disagreement 
with  Wilbur  Needhain--Politics  in  Hollywood  — 
The  Larry  Edmunds  Bookshop--Milton  Luboviski-- 
Antiquarian  booksellers — Walter  Neuman--The 
Briers--Arthur  H.  Clark — Karl  Zamboni--Phil 
and  Helen  Brown — John  Cole — Abbey  updated: 
Juan  Pinans--Nick  Kovach. 

TAPE  NUMBER:   XI,  Side  One  (July  29,  1974) 491 

Antiquarians--Nick  Kovach--Cambridge  Bookshop — 
Lee  Freeson--Larson ' s--Kurt  Melander — Roman 
Novins--Mel  Royer--Founding  of  the  Southern 
California  chapter  of  the  Antiquarian 
Booksellers  Association--Standards  of 
membership — Value  of  membership--Interchange 
of  knowledge--Leaving  and  reentering  the 
chapter--Cherokee  Book  Shop. 

TAPE  NUMBER:   XI,  Side  Two  (July  29,  1974) 515 

Involving  Jewish  booksellers  in  the  United 
Jewish  Welfare  Fund--Outside  activities  of 
booksellers — Heritage  Book  Shop--Theodore 
Front — Marian  Gore--Publishers '  represent- 
atives--Role  of  the  salesman--James  D.  Blake — 
Importance  of  backlist  to  new-book  seller-- 
Louis  Friedman--Harrison  Leusler--Carl  Smalley — 
Ray  Healy — Jess  Carmack — Ellis  Baker. 

TAPE  NUMBER:   XII,  Side  One  (July  29,  1974) 540 

Salesmen:   Charlie  Johnson--Denny  Chase — 
Raymar--Erret  Stuart — Bob  Cohen — The  Nourses — 
"Second-generation"  salesmen. 

TAPE  NUMBER:   XII,  Side  Two  (August  13,  1974) 562 

Southern  California  Booksellers  Association-- 
"Cavalcade  of  Books" — The  organization  today-- 
Publisher-bookseller  relations — First  officers — 
Involvement  with  American  Booksellers 
Association--Growth  of  ABA  in  the  sixties — 
Purpose  of  ABA — Criticism  by  new  members — 
Current  situation. 


TAPE  NUMBER;   XIII,  Side  One  (August  13,  1974) 586 

Dick  Noyes--Duties  of  ABA  president--Changing 
goals  of  ABA--"Mr.  Pickwick"  column- -Aaron 
Epstein's  contribution  to  Pickwick--Branching 
out — A  digression  on  Kaspare  Cohn--The  first 
branch,  Topanga  Plaza--Negotiating  with  May 
Company- -Further  expansion — Dayton-Hudson 
offers  to  buy  Pickwick. 

TAPE  NUMBER  XIII,  Side  Two  (August  13,  1974) 611 

Dayton-Hudson's  approach  to  Pickwick-- 
Background  of  Dayton-Hudson--Dayton-Hudson 
and  bookstores--Decision  to  sell--Trend 
towards  dehumanization  of  the  book  trade — 
Proliferation  of  chains--Changing  nature  of 
stores--Future  of  Louis  Epstein. 

Index 636 


JULY  2,  1974 

GARDNER:   I  thought  we'd  start  out  this  time  talking  about 
[Memoirs  of]  Hecate  County  and  that  whole  story. 
EPSTEIN:   In  194  7,  the  book  by  Edmund  Wilson  came  out,  as 
everyone  knows.   It  was  a  fairly  dull  book  for  the  people 
who  ever  read  it  through.   But  it  had  two  or  three  pages 
in  which  he  gave  some  fairly  intimate  descriptions  of  a 
sexual  act.   Things  were  not  quite  as  open  then  as  they 
are  today.   Considerable  opposition  to  the  sale  of  it  came 
up  from  various  organizations — not  necessarily  organizations, 
but  individuals,  powerful  individuals,  one  of  them,  Randolph 
Hearst,  who  was  at  all  times  at  odds  with  Edmund  Wilson, 
the  author,  for  some  of  the  things  Hearst  claimed  Wilson 
did  and  Wilson  claimed  Hearst  said.   So  I  personally  be- 
lieve, and  I've  had  it  verified  by  [someone]  who  knew 
some  of  the  background  of  their  controversy,  that  it  was 
strictly  a  hatchet  job  by  Mr.  Hearst  and  his  editors  for 
the  pleasure  of  Hearst.   At  any  rate,  the  situation  came 
to  a  head  in  several  places  in  the  United  States — New  York 
City  and,  I  believe,  somewhere  in  the  Midwest  and  in  Los 
Angeles.   The  book  was  in  stock  in  every  bookstore  in  the 
United  States,  and  no  one  considered  it  a  bad  book.   It 
got  the  usual  literary  credits,  but  it  had  no  particular 
sale  until  it  started  being  attacked.   Then,  of  course, 
people  wanted  to  read  it,  wanted  to  know  what  all  the 


hullabaloo  was  about,  and  it  was  a  tremendous  disappoint- 
ment to  99  percent  of  the  people  who  bought  the  book. 
Edmund  Wilson  is  not  the  easiest  person  to  read — by  no 
means . 

The  book,  as  I  said,  was  on  sale  in  all  bookstores. 
In  this  city  it  was  in  every  department  store  and  in  every 
bookstore  that  carried  new  books.   The  wholesalers  had  it, 
and  it  was  being  openly  offered  by  everyone.   And  we  had 
no  problems  with  it  until  this  campaign  started.   Well, 
one  day — I  recollect  it  was  about  the  middle  of  the  summer — 
a  troop  of  policemen  walked  in.   They  knew  we  had  the  book 
because  one  of  their  detectives  had  come  and  bought  a  copy 
the  day  before.   Well,  they  followed  it  up  the  next  day, 
and  they  grabbed  all  the  copies  of  Hecate  County,  and  they 
arrested  one  of  our  employees,  Herman  Mann — about  as  in- 
nocent a  person  as  ever  lived.   (Poor  Herman  has  since 
died.   He  left  a  fine  record  in  the  book  business,  having 
worked  in  Brooklyn  at  Abraham  and  Straus  and  also,  locally, 
at  Bullock's.   And  he  used  to  meet  customers  from  Abraham 
and  Straus  who  now  lived  here  or  visited  here;  they'd  re- 
cognize each  other.   That  is  another  story.)   Well,  they 
arrested  Herman.   They  took  him  to  jail,  and  we  eventually 
bailed  him  out.   At  the  time  of  the  arrest  I  protested, 
"Well,  why  do  you  arrest  him?   He  only  works  here."   "Well," 
he  says,  "it's  a  corporation."   They  couldn't  arrest  me — 
I  was  president  of  the  corporation — because  the  corporate 


thing,  you  cannot  be  arrested  and  put  in  jail.   "I  per- 
sonally didn't  sell  the  book,"  I  said,  "but  I'm  respon- 
sible for  having  it  here."   Well,  that  isn't  the  way  the 
law  worked.   The  trial,  of  course,  came  up  some  months 
later.   We  tried  to  get  onto  the  stand  witnesses  to  show 
that  the  book  was  a  good  piece  of  literary  writing,  and 
the  prurient  scene  was  incidental  to  the  story  and  didn't 
go  on  and  on  offering  scenes  such  as  that  throughout  the 
book  as  straight,  dull  pornography  does.   But,  no,  the 
judge  at  the  time  wouldn't  hear  anything  of  it. 
GARDNER:   Do  you  recall  who  the  judge  v;as? 
EPSTEIN:   It  may  be  in  the  story.   [looks  at  newspaper] 
This  is  the  appeal.   At  any  rate.  Judge  [Mildred  L. ]  Lillie 
heard  the  appeal.   I  don't  recall  the  man's  name.   It'll 
probably  come  back  to  me  a  little  later.   He  was  an  ob- 
stinate old  fool,  and  I  think  he  was  playing  to  the  grand- 
stand of  Hearst — who,  of  course,  was  watching  every  move 
and  making  comments  at  the  time.   We  lost  the  case.   [phone 
rings;  tape  stopped]   The  corporation  was  convicted,  and 
Herman  was  convicted,  but  he  was  let  off  with  a  minor  fine. 
The  publisher  of  the  book,  Doubleday  and  Company,  furnished 
our  defense  counsel.   They  were  very,  very  nice  about  it. 
GARDNER:   Who  were  your  attorneys? 

EPSTEIN:   Our  attorney  was — the  judge's  name  was  [Arthur  S.] 
Guerin.   (I  work  backwards.)   Ray  Stansberry  was  the  at- 
torney, and  Guerin  was  the  original  judge.   And  then  the 


case  was  appealed,  and  it  later  came  before  Judge  Lillie, 
who  is  now,  I  think,  in  the  superior  court  or  appellate, 
I  believe.   But  Guerin  was  a  pompous  sort  of  a  guy,  and  he 
wouldn't  listen  to  any  defense  at  all.   He  actually  prac- 
tically told  the  jury  that  we  were  guilty  from  the  start. 
The  attorney,  Stansberry — the  judge  ordered  that  the  whole 
book  be  read  in  front  of  the  jury,  and  Mrs.  Stansberry  sat 
there  for  three  days  reading  that  darn  thing.   But  because 
of  the  pressure  of  the  Times  and  the  pressure  of  the  Examiner 
and  the  judge's  conduct  in  court,  we  were  lost  from  the  be- 

And  the  law  at  that  time  was  very  unclear,  anyway, 
that  you  could  be  arrested  for  almost  anything  if  anyone 
wanted  to  complain  that  it  was  obscene.   It  was  surprising 
to  me  that  more  books  didn't  come  under  that,  except  per- 
haps the  prosecutors  were  too  busy  to  do  anything  about 
those  things  except  when  somebody  influential  in  the 
community  raised  an  issue  for  whatever  reason.   Very 
often  such  issues  were  raised  in  communities  for  political 
purposes  so  somebody  can  get  publicity  out  of  it,  that  he 
is  the  savior  of  the  youth  of  America.   Of  course,  people 
like  that  are  always  suspect  in  my  mind. 

It  went  up  on  appeal,  and  unfortunately  Judge  Lillie, 
because  of  the  law  as  it  stood,  could  do  nothing  about  re- 
versing the  case.   Judge  Lillie  and  I  have  met  on  many 
occasions  since,  and  we  always  have  a  laugh  about  it.   She 


maintains  that  she  always  regretted  that  she  had  to 
rule  against  us,  but  there  was  no  way  she  could  possibly 
rule  any  other  way  at  that  time.   The  U.S.  Supreme  Court 
had  never  clarified  that  point.   It  wasn't  until  later 
that  they  had  such  a  thing  as  "v;ithout  any  literary  value" 
or  "without  any  social  import"  as  part  of  the  definition. 
And  I  notice  now  they've  even  changed  it  again  to  make  it 
even  more  uncertain  as  to  v/hat  is  and  what  isn't.   They 
leave  it  to  every  community  to  decide  for  themselves,  and 
so  the  poor  bookseller--well ,  such  as  the  Pickwick,  who 
had  thirty  branches  all  the  way  from  Bakersfield  to 
Hollywood — which  community  is  he  going  to  put  a  book  in? 
And  how  is  he  going  to  be  protected  from  being  arrested 
in  Bakersfield  and  not  arrested  in  San  Diego  and  maybe 
arrested  again  in  Fresno  and  not  arrested  in  Hollywood? 
GARDNER:   And  the  ordering 's  all  done  from  Minneapolis. 
EPSTEIN:   Right.   And  the  ordering  is  done  from  Minneapolis, 
It's  an  impossible  situation.   I  can't  understand  the 
thinking  of  supposedly  nine  wise  men  in  the  Supreme  Court 
making  a  decision  like  that.   Well,  the  wise  men  were 
against  the  decision.   If  I  may  go  political,  I  think 
it's  the  Nixon  appointees  who  are  out  to  save  the  world 
from  pornography--well ,  I  won't  comment  any  further  on 

GARDNER:   Oh,  feel  free. 
EPSTEIN:   If  his  Supreme  Court  appointees  are  no  more 


honest  in  their  thinking  than  his  other  appointees  in 
his  own  office,  I  fear  for  the  United  States.   This  is 
actually  true,  in  my  mind.   It's  such  a  great  danger 
that  the  Supreme  Court  has  all  that  power  to  declare 
things  constitutional  or  unconstitutional.   If  they  don't 
think  straight,  the  country's  in  grave  danger.   If  they're 
following  their  appointer  because  of  his  principles,  then 
they're  not  lav/yers  for  the  United  States;  they're  lawyers 
for  him. 

At  any  rate,  that's  the  story  of  Hecate  County. 
GARDNER:   Well,  what  happened  finally? 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  finally  the  penalties  were  paid,  and  busi- 
ness went  on  as  usual.   The  book  was  withdrawn  from  circula- 
tion.  Of  course,  it's  now  on  every  paperback-book  shelf. 
It's  never  been  acclaimed  as  a  literary  success.   It  was 
quietly  laying  its  own  egg,  and  it  should  have  been  allowed 
to  do  so.   If  it  wasn't  for  Mr.  Hearst,  it  probably  would 
have.   It  would  have  gone  down  in  literary  circles  as  a 
novel  written  by  Edmund  Wilson,  appeared  in  bibliographies; 
and  scholars  would  have  said  that  he  did  it,  and  nobody 
would  have  understood  what  he  was  talking  about  anyway. 
But  that  is  what  happens  very  often  when  the  cudgels  are 
taken  up  for  saving  the  human  race. 

GARDNER:   Can  you  think  of  any  reason  in  particular  why 
Pickwick  was  chosen? 
EPSTEIN:   It  was  not  only  Pickwick.   Actually,  I  should 


have  inentioned--this  has  always  rankled  me--that  in  view 
of  the  fact  that  every  department  store  had  it  and  all  the 
stores  in  the  country,  that  tv;o  stores  were  picked  out. 
Not  only  Pickwick--there  was  a  little  tiny  store  on  West 
Sixth  Street  that  was  being  operated  by  Harry  Wepplo.   I 
think  it's  Lofland's  old  store.   When  Lofland  retired, 
somebody  bought  him  out.   And  then  Harry  Wepplo  was  helping 
him,  and  then  they  started  taking  in  new  books.   It  was 
originally  an  old-book  store.   But  poor  Harry  was  also 
tried,  he  and  Herman  Mann.   Curiously,  they're  both  very 
short,  tiny  people,  both  very  mild-mannered.   Herman  was 
more  mild-mannered.   Harry  later  opened  a  bookstore  in 
Farmer's  Market.   But  those  were  the  only  two  stores. 
GARDNER:   Any  reason? 

EPSTEIN:   Department  stores  were  not  touched.   Of  course, 
the  reason  given  was,  well,  the  department  stores  at  that 
time  were  very  heavy  advertisers  in  the  Examiner.   So  if 
Hearst  was  behind  it,  he  would  protect  them.   But  it  was 
pointed  out  to  the  court  that  only  two  stores  out  of 
dozens  [were  affected].   Well,  of  course,  the  comment  is 
that  you  don't  have  to  arrest  every  criminal.   There's  no 
defense  that  other  people  committing  the  same  crime  have 
not  been  arrested.   Very  often  it's  impossible  to  arrest 
every  one  of  them--which  is  perfectly  legal;  I  can  under- 
stand that.   But  nevertheless  it's  curious  that  the  Pickwick, 
which  of  course  was  right  in  the  heart  of  Hollywood,  the 


city  of  Sin--so-called--and  the  other  was  downtown,  a 
little  secondhand  bookstore.   I  don't  know  what  they 
were  trying  to  prove  by  arresting  him.   I  can  understand 
the  psychology  of  arresting  the  Pickwick  in  the  midst  of 
the  City  of  Sin,  but  I  can't  see  the  psychology  of  the 
law  of ficers--unless  they  were  going  to  arrest  everybody 
in  blanket  f ashion--that  they  would  pick  on  poor  Harry 

GARDNER:   Did  he  have  to  pay  the  same  fine? 
EPSTEIN:   Oh,  yes,  the  fine  was  nominal.   As  I  say,  the 
defense  was  provided  by  Doubleday  and  Company,  the  pub- 
lishers of  the  book,  so  we  were  not  out  financially  except 
the  horror  of  going  down  to  court  for  days  and  days  and 
days  at  a  time  and  living  through  the  agony  of  being  ac- 
cused of  selling  a  pornographic  book  which  is  no  more 
pornographic  than  thousands  and  millions  of  other  things. 
Well,  that's  pretty  much  the  story  of  Hecate  County.   We 
got  a  lot  of  good  press  from  some  of  the  more  liberal 
papers,  and  of  course  the  literary  community  in  Los  Angeles 
was  all  stirred  up  for  two  reasons:   number  one,  why  the 
arrest  was  made;  and  number  two,  why  the  defense  was  not 
allowed  to  testify  that  this  book  was  not  offensive  to  the 
public,  that  the  public  could  read  it  and  not  be  offended 
at  all.   Well,  no  such  defense  was  to  be  allowed,  only  the 
reading  of  it,  and  the  jury  had  to  make  up  its  own  mind. 
It  was  a  little  bit  of  a  stir  at  the  time. 


GARDNER:   Did  the  [American]  Civil  Liberties  Union  come 
into  it  at  any  point? 

EPSTEIN:   No,  they  did  not  appear.   They  did  not  appear 
on  the  scene.   None  of  the  public  organizations  appeared. 
And  I  don't  think  it  v;as  absolutely  necessary  for  them  to 
do  so  at  the  time.   We  had  sufficient  legal  counsel,  and 
we  were  getting  good  publicity  out  of  our  side  of  the 
story — except,  of  course,  from  the  Hearst  papers,  which 
continued  the  attack  at  all  times. 

GARDNER:   What  about  other  censorship  cases  in  the  course 
of  your  career? 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  surprisingly,  with  the  exception  of  hard- 
core pornography,  which  bookstores  don't  handle — it's 
handled  by  a  different  type  of  person;  it  never  appears 
in  regular  bookstores.  .  .  .   (Well,  I  won't  say  "never"; 
I'm  sure  that  there  are  some  small  booksellers  who  might 
have  a  few  of  those  things  under  the  counter  or  in  a  drawer 
of  his  desk.   There's  no  question  about  that.   But  the 
regular  bookseller  never  really  bothered  with  that.)   Most 
of  those  things  are  or  were  sold  either  by  peddlers  or  by 
some  newsstands  in  certain  parts  of  the  area.   It's  an 
underground  thing.   It  was  not  part  of  the  regular  trade. 
I  recollect  in  the  old,  old  days  when  I  was  still  early 
in  the  used-book  business,  early  in  my  career,  there  were 
people  who  would  come  from  the  East  and  carry — in  their 


cars  or  however--pornographic  books,  Fanny  Hill  and  such 
as  that.   And  they  would  come  to  offer  them  to  the  used- 
book  sellers,  and,  I  suppose,  to  the  new-book  sellers,  too. 
And  if  a  person  had  one  or  two  people  who  were  very  anxious 
to  find  a  copy,  very  often  we  would  buy  one.   There's  no 
question  about  it.   And  we  would  sell  a  piece  of  pornography 
from  time  to  time,  but  we  were  very,  very  careful  and  cir- 
cumspect about  it.   We  didn't  believe  in  censorship  even 
then.   But  we  knew  v.'hat  would  happen  to  us  if  we  broke 
the  rules.   And  curiously,  the  people  who  were  buyers  of 
erotica  in  those  days  were  not  little  schoolkids .   They 
were  not  tramps.   They  were  substantial  people  in  the 
community.   We  had  one  man  who  was  a  major  officer  in  a 
major  bank  who  was  collecting  pornography.   And  during 
the  course  of  my  career  I  sold  him  several  pieces  of  porno- 
graphy.  He  was  a  fine,  substantial  citizen.   He  raised  a 
fine  family  and  a  very  literary  family.   Not  only  did  he 
buy  pornography,  but  he  bought  other  things,  too.   It 
wasn't  a  question  of  his  mind  being  preoccupied  with  it. 
Women  would  buy--at  least  half  of  the  customers  for  porno- 
graphy were  female. 
GARDNER:   Is  that  so? 

EPSTEIN:   Oh,  yes.   To  this  day  the  saying  is  that  if  it 
were  not  for  the  female  public,  most  of  the  so-called  erotic 
novels  being  circulated  today  probably  wouldn't  make  the 
grade.   I'm  not  a  psychologist,  and  I  won't  go  into  the 


psychological  reasons  for  it;  but  that's  what  they  say, 
and  from  my  own  experience,  women  buy  most  of  that  type 
of  novel.   When  you  come  back  to  this  pornography  busi- 
ness, it's  been  going  on  since  time  immemorial.   I  have 
reprints  at  home  now--I  ran  across  a  number  of  the  Bohn 
Library  editions.   I  don't  know  if  you're  familiar  with 
them,  but  they  republished  the  early  classics  from  Pliny's 
Natural  History  to  Procopius  and  any  number  of  the  early 
Greek  and  Latin  writers;  and  even  in  those  days  they  had 
what  they  called  erotic  literature.   Very  well  known.   And 
they're  still  being  reprinted  today.   But  you  see,  when 
they  reprint  one  of  those,  when  they  reprint  Johannes 
Secundus,  they  reprint  it  as  a  literary  classic.   Of  course, 
they  use  a  different  type  of  language,  and  they  approach  the 
problem  in  a  different  way,  but  the  intent  is  there.   Maybe 
they  might  have  been  a  little  bit  more  literary  in  their 
day.   I  ran  across  about  a  half  a  dozen  of  those  classics. 
I  have  them  right  here  in  the  next  room. 
GARDNER:   We'll  have  to  read  from  them. 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  you'll  have  to  do  the  reading  from  them, 

GARDNER:   But  there  were  no  other  major  censorship  cases 
that  affected  Los  Angeles? 

EPSTEIN:   Those  few  cases  that  did  appear  when  a  person 
was  arrested  were  not  really,  in  a  sense,  a  censorship 
case  as  Hecate  County.   There  was  really  no  defense  for 


them  at  that  time.   Now  they  have  defended  Fanny  Hill  and 
found  it  innocent.   V-Thether  Fanny  Hill  being  tried  today 
under  the  new  Supreme  Court  ruling  would  come  off  scot 
free  or  not,  I  don't  know. 
GARDNER:   It's  impossible  to  say. 

EPSTEIN:   It's  possible  that  some  community,  if  you  apply 
strictly  community  standards — for  instance,  a  copy  was 
sold,  say,  in  an  Amish  village  in  Pennsylvania  and  they 
had  a  jury  of  that  type.   Or  we  could  name  quite  a  few 
communities  where  a  thing  like  that  might  happen.   The 
book  was  sold  everywhere  in  the  country,  and  this  particu- 
lar county,  because  of  the  nature  of  the  citizens  and  their 
beliefs,  it  might  be  found  to  be  offensive  to  them.   And 
that  is  apparently  the  only  rule. 

GARDNER:   As  a  bookseller,  what  are  your  feelings  about 

EPSTEIN:   My  feelings  about  censorship  is  that  they  serve 
no  purpose,  never  have,  and  never  will.   Censorship  has 
never  eliminated  pornography.   Censorship  of  conduct  has 
never  eliminated  bad  conduct.   Censorship  of  almost  any- 
thing has  never  eliminated  the  thing  that  it  wanted  to 
censor.   I  think  history  will  bear  that  out.   People  were 
burned  for  witchcraft,  and  there's  just  as  much  so-called 
witchcraft  today  as  there  ever  was.   People  were  prosecuted 
for  writing  pornography,  and  as  long  as  there  are  men  to 
write,  pornography  will  be  written.   And  as  long  as  there 


are  people  living,  they  will  want  to  read  pornography. 
I  had  an  instance.   Well,  when  the  new  wave  of  the  so-called 
pornographic  novels  came  out,  there  was   considerable  crit- 
icism by  some  people,  and  a  great  many  of  our  customers 
were  very  much  upset  because  we  sold  that  type  of  thing. 
Now,  for  instance,  when  everybody  started  selling  the 
Fanny  Hill--we'll  use  that  as  the  classic  example— we  were 
severely  criticized  for  selling  it.   And  we  had  to  defend 
ourselves  to  some  of  our  customers  who  believed  that  be- 
cause it  had  had  such  a  bad  reputation  that  it  should 
continue  to  have  it  and  not  be  sold  except  whichever  way 
it  had  been  circulated. 

One  man  wrote  to  me ,  a  customer  of  many  years'  stand- 
ing, and  I  answered  him.   He  complained  about  this  thing 
being  offered  to  young  people  and  so  forth,  that  it  would 
hurt  their  morals  and  all  that.   And  I  explained  to  him  in 
my  own  way.   What  his  reaction  to  my  letter  was  after  he 
got  it,  I'll  never  know,  because  I  never  heard  from  him 
again.   Whether  he  continued  to  be  a  customer  of  the  shop 
or  not,  I  don't  know  either,  because  I  didn't  know  him 
personally.   But  at  any  rate,  I  wrote  and  told  him  that  in 
the  history  of  censorship,  censorship  has  never  been  effec- 
tive, and  in  spite  of  censorship,  people  who  want  to  read 
those  things  usually  find  them  and  can  find  them.   They've 
never  been  unavailable  in  the  total  sense.   He  made  some 
remark  about  children  reading  it;  and  I  told  him  that  I 


had  read  pornography,  and  I'm  positive  my  children  have 
read  pornography,  and  I'm  sure  that  their  children  are 
going  to  read  pornography,  and  that  we  do  not  consider 
ourselves  an  unusual  family  in  that  sense,  nor  a  family 
that  lacks  morals.   It's  just  a  natural  curiosity.   And 
I  don't  think  it  will  affect  any  one  of  us  in  any  particu- 
lar way,  morally--or  psychologically,  for  that  matter.   I 
remarked  to  him  what  my  children  were  doing,  that  one  was 
a  scientist  with  his  doctorate  and  doing  research  work, 
and  that  the  other  son  was  in  business  with  me  doing  very 
well  at  that.   And  we  enjoy  an  excellent  reputation  in 
the  community.   Now,  what  effect  that  letter  had  on  the 
person,  I  don't  know.   But  I've  always  defended  it. 

There  are  various  kinds  of  censorship.   There  was  the 
censorship  of  the  McCarthy  era  and  the  censorship  of  the 
Birchers,  the  America  Firsters;  and  there  is  the  censor- 
ship attempted,  many  attempts  at  censorship,  even  by  the 
extreme  left  in  Hollywood  during  their  heyday  when  they 
were  very  powerful.   Here,  again,  I  don't  want  to  go  into 
a  discussion  of  politics,  but  these  are  facts  that  these 
things  have  happened,  and  they  happened  to  me:   that  a 
Bircher  would  come  in  and  see  two  books,  one  alongside 
the  other;  and  he  would  take  the  book  he  didn't  like  and 
he  would  throw  it  at  me  and  say,  "Why  the  hell  do  you  carry 
that  old  book,  that  Communist  book?   Close  my  account." 
Well,  okay.   If  he  would  listen  to  me ,  I  would  try  to 


explain  to  him  that  a  bookstore  cannot  censor  the  public's 
thinking.   It  cannot  censor  a  writer's  writing.   A  book- 
store is  a  place  where  the  community  can  find  an  exchange 
of  ideas.   If  you've  got  a  better  idea,  you  write  it. 
Publish  it.   We'll  sell  it.   But  you've  got  to  give  each 
a  chance  for  the  public  to  make  up  its  own  mind.   That's 
my  theory  of  what  a  bookstore  of  our  type  was.   T  can 
imagine  a  bookstore  that's  run  as  a  little  personal  shoppe 
by  a  person  who  likes  to  sell  the  books  he  likes.   I  agree, 
He  has  a  right--and  a  duty,  perhaps  in  his  own  mind--to 
sell  only  the  things  he  likes  and  the  ideas  he  likes  to 
propagate.   But  a  general  community  bookstore  such  as  the 
Pickwick  stores  have  always  been,  I  don't  think  has  a 
right  to  do  that.   And  I  have  been  taken  to  task  for  sell- 
ing anti-Semitic  books  by  the  same  organization  to  which  I 
have  made  contributions--and  still  do,  over  many,  many 
years — for  fighting  anti-Semitism.   And  I  have  to  explain 
to  them  that  the  book  that  they  were  complaining  about  was 
definitely  anti-Semitic,  that  I  got  no  pleasure  out  of 
selling  that  book,  but  as  a  community  bookstore,  I  felt 
it  was  proper — not  only  proper,  but  almost  necessary--for 
me  to  stock  that  book.   It  certainly  wasn't  for  the  fact 
that  I  might  want  to  make  a  few  extra  dollars  out  of  that 
particular  book,  because  it  never  did  sell  that  well.   The 
amoxint  of  money  involved  was  minimal. 
GARDNER:   What  book? 


EPSTEIN:   There  again,  I  can't  flick  it  off  my  memory 
right  like  that.   I'll  think  of  it.   [Iron  Curtain  Over 
America  by  John  Beatty]   And  I  explained  to  Mr.  [Milton] 
Senn,  who  was  at  that  time  with  the  Anti-Defamation  League — 
poor  chap,  he  just  recently  died — that  in  my  mind  it  would 
be  better  if  a  person  who  wants  this  particular  book  would 
come  into  a  store  like  ours  and  buy  it  and  see  other  books 
that  might  be  more  enlightening  than  to  go  to  that  character 
who  had  bookstores.  Smith,  that  preacher  .  .  . 
GARDNER:   Gerald  L.K.  Smith. 

EPSTEIN:   .  .  .  Gerald  L.K.  Smith's  store  and  find  nothing 
but  anti-Semitic  literature  in  there.   And  that  gave  it  a 
sense  of  proportion.   Well,  he  didn't  particularly  follow 
my  theory,  but  I  convinced  him  that  he  had  no  right  to 
complain  about  me  selling  that  book  because  in  my  position 
I  could  not  exercise  a  censorship  of  what  I  would  think 
would  be  the  community  thinking. 

The  surprising  thing  about  censorship  is  that  men  who 
are  very  human  in  every  other  respect,  and  would  complain 
about  censorship  no  end,  and  fight  to  their  death  prac- 
tically would  come  in  and  say,  "Louis,  why  do  you  handle 
this  fascist  book?"   And  they'd  take  the  book  and  literally 
throw  it  out,  throw  it  either  at  me  or  at  the  counter.   I 
mean,  they  wouldn't  make  any  attempt  to  hurt  me.   And  they 
were  people  that  I  knew,  who  had  been  customers  of  mine 
for  many  years.   And  I  would  say  to  them  frankly,  "Look, 


you  SOB,  if  you  want  to  be  a  censor,  get  the  hell  out  of 
here."   Some  of  them  I  knew  well  enough  to  talk  to  like 
that.   I  said,  "You  have  no  right  to  complain  because  I 
sell  that  book.   I  sell  the  books  you  like,  too,  don't  I?" 

During  the  height  of  that  type  of  thinking  we  had 
many  cases.   One  particular  case  I  may  have  mentioned  is 
where  a  group  of  three  youngsters  came  in.   They  were  Birch 
Society  supporters.   And  a  certain  paperback  came  out 
against  the  Birchers--!  can't  recollect  its  name  now-- 
and  they  were  incensed  over  the  fact  that  various  stores 
were  handling  it.   And  so  a  group  of  three  youngsters 
came  to  me .  .  .  .   Oh,  Birchers  are  fantastic  letter  writers, 
They're  threateners.   Most  of  the  time  they  won't  sign  their 
name.   Anyone  who  sent  me  a  letter  with  their  name  signed  to 
it,  I  personally  answered  it,  explaining  my  position.   Once 
in  a  while  I  got  a  nice  letter  back  telling  me,  well,  it's 
very  clear  thinking  but  they  still  didn't  agree.   Anyway, 
they  were  by  no  means  fair  about  it.   Well,  this  group  of 
three  youngsters  came  in,  and  they  complained  about  that 
particular  book.   And  they  explained  to  me  that  they  had 
already  visited  the  wholesale  house  for  paperbacks  and 
that  they  were  going  to  drop  it  because  of  the  pressure  of 
Birch.   They  had  visited  the  May  Company,  and  May  Company 
was  going  to  drop  it.   They  visited  another  department 
store,  and  they  were  going  to  drop  it.   Department  stores 
are  extremely  sensitive  to  any  type  of  criticism.   As 


regards  that,  they  have  no  backbone  whatsoever.   I  mean, 
if  they  want  to  sell  something,  there's  no  reason  why  they 
should  be  pushed  into  a  corner  by  some  group  or  this  group 
or  that  group.   At  any  rate,  the  youngsters  came  in  and 
explained  all  that  to  me,  that  they  had  succeeded  in  do- 
ing all  this  and  would  I  do  the  same.   I  said,  "No,  I  will 
not  do  the  same."   And  then  I  proceeded  to  give  the  three 
of  them  a  long  lecture  of  why  I  would  not  do  the  same,  why 
our  store  could  not  do  the  same,  and  why  I  personally  thought 
that  they  were  totally  mistaken  in  asking  me  to  do  the  same. 
I  explained  to  them  the  principles  of  freedom  of  speech  and 
that  we  were  handling  two  or  three  books  that  came  out  at 
the  time  which  were  Birch  books--very  severely  criticized 
by  the  other  side  for  handling  them--and  that  there's  no 
reason  that  they  should  not  take  their  chances  in  the 
marketplace  of  ideas,  as  any  other  idea.   If  you've  got 
a  better  idea,  then  people  will  follow  it.   And  I  explained 
to  them  of  the  censorship  cases  that  had  happened  in  the 
early  days  of  the  formation  of  the  country.   I  explained  to 
them  of  the  article  about  free  speech.   I  think  I  left  an 
impression  with  those  youngsters.   I  could  see  the  attitude 
on  their  face  was  not  as  antagonistic  and  aggressive  and 
holy  as  it  was  when  they  walked  in.   And  to  their  credit, 
they  politely  thanked  me  for  listening  to  them,  and  I 
thanked  them  for  listening  to  me .   I  said,  "You  boys  are 
young,  and  you  should  study  this  issue  to  a  degree  greater, 


perhaps,  than  has  been  called  to  your  attention.   If  the 
censorship  could  work  both  ways — if  the  extreme  left 
were.  ..."   The  fact  that  they  themselves  were  able  to 
publish  their  books  in  which  they  say  there's  a  conspiracy 
against  them;  the  conspiracy  has  never  bothered  to  censor 
them.   VThy  should  they  act  in  reverse? 

Anyway,  I  must  have  given  a  good  talk,  because  I  know 
that  several  of  my  clerks  had  gathered  around  to  listen  all 
through  this.   They  said,  "Mr.  E,  that  was  a  damn  good 
talk."   I  was  very  serious  about  the  issue.   I  thought  to 
express  myself  to  youngsters.   I  gave  them  a  good  deal 
more  time  than  I  might  have  to  an  older  person  who  might 
have  wanted  to  give  me  an  argument.   But  meet  those  three 
youngsters  on  the  street,  and  you'd  take  them  for  just 
average,  good  American  youngsters.   They  had  been  sold  on 
the  idea  that  the  country  was  being  run  by  Communists  for 
Communists  and  nothing  but  Communists,  all  the  way  up  to 
the  top.   At  that  particular  stage,  I  don't  think  the  liberal 
community  was  that  strong. 

GARDNER:   We  haven't  talked  about  your  political  affiliations 
at  all. 

EPSTEIN:   I  don't  have  any  political  affiliations  in  the 
sense  that  I  am  a  straight  party  man.   I  register  as  a 
Democrat,  but  I  would  just  as  often  vote  for  a  good  Repub- 
lican if  I  think  he's  a  better  person.   I  think  the  party 
labels  are  in  many  instances  misleading.   And  I  think  a 


party  label  will  very  often  push  a  good  man  into  doing 
bad  things  really  against  his  own  good  thinking  because 
he  feels  he  has  a  certain  loyalty  to  a  party.   If  our 
two-party  system  was  that  strong  in  this  country,  it 
would  have  to  be  subject  to  more  criticism  in  Congress 
on  a  party  basis.   We  would  have  to  adopt  the  British 
type  of  rule.   If  they  lost  a  vote  of  confidence,  they 
were  out.   Under  our  system,  which  does  not  provide  for 
that,  in  some  ways  it  works  at  a  disadvantage.   Of  course, 
no  one  can  gainsay  that  our  government  has  probably  stood 
the  test  of  time  as  well  as  any  government  in  Europe.   It 
doesn't  always  work  out  the  best,  but  on  the  whole  I  guess 
it  is  the  best.   But  I  think  too  many  people  are  befogged 
by  party  labels.   I  don't  agree  with  that. 
GARDNER:   So  you've  never  been  active  for  one  party  or 

EPSTEIN:   I've  never  been  active.   I've  sent  money  to 
candidates.   I  suppose  you  would  call  me  a  supporter  of 
liberal  candidates.   By  the  same  token,  I  can  criticize 
a  liberal  candidate  if  he's  a  weak  person.   After  he  gets 
elected  and  doesn't  get  the  job  done,  there's  no  reason  to 
reelect  him  because  he  happens  to  have  a  liberal  label. 
A  lot  of  liberals,  I  think,  are  not  self-critical  about 
the  representatives  we  send  to  certain  elected  institu- 
tions.  The  tendency  of  a  label  is  to  make  everybody  run 
as  a  bunch  of  sheep  and  to  follow  the  label  rather  than 


their  good  sense.   I  take  my  liberality  with  a  large 
grain  of  salt,  knowing  the  liberals  are  just  as  human 
as  nonliberals.   Morally,  I  think  [that]  they're  probably 
not  any  better.   Their  standards  initially  might  be 
higher,  but  I  think  they're  just  as  liable  to  tempta- 
tion as  anyone  else.   And  I'm  old  enough  to  know  that 
people  are  tempted  at  certain  times  in  their  lives,  cer- 
tain situations,  either  by  actual  money  or  by  power  or  by 
glory  or  by  the  success  syndrome. 

I  totally  believe  that  human  nature  being  what  it  is, 
we  will  never  have  a  perfect  government.   There's  no  such 
thing  as  a  perfect  government.   I  can't  conceive  of  it, 
and  I  don't  think  anyone  else  can.   It  can't  be  achieved 
by  party  labels.   It  can  only  be  achieved  by  individuals. 
And  I  think  a  good  individual,  no  matter  what  his  party, 
in  a  powerful  office  can  exert  more  good  than  the  party 
can:   a  strong  man  who  lives  by  principle,  who  knows  what 
is  good  and  then  tries  to  attain  that  good.   And  I  think 
about  as  close  to  a  person  as  I  can  think  of  is— and  I 
still  call  him  Governor  Warren — Chief  Justice  [Earl] 
Warren.   Not  that  everything  he  did  necessarily  was  of 
the  best,  but  of  a  person  with  a  party  label,  supposedly 
Republican,  I  think  his  theory  of  justice,  his  theory  of 
government,  is  closest  to  my  way  of  thinking  than  any 
other  before  or  since.   On  the  other  hand,  I  think 


a  [Franklin  D.]  Roosevelt  served  a  purpose  at  the  time, 
but  I  think  he  served  too  long.   I  think  the  country 
would  have  been  far  better  off  if  he  had  not  been  elected 
the  last  time. 

I  think  a  lot  of  politicians  happened  to  get  into 
situations,  a  lot  of  presidents  got  into  situations  over 
which  they  had  no  control,  and  suffered  because  the  events 
were  such  that  they  overwhelmed  the  country  and  they  over- 
whelmed the  man--like  the  Depression.   [Herbert]  Hoover 
was  a  good  man.   I  think  he  might  have  been  an  excellent 
president.   But  I  think  he  just  came  in  at  an  inopportune 
time  for  himself.   No  man  at  that  time  could  have  done 
well--let's  put  it  that  way. 

My  politics  are  very  simple.   I  have  friends  who 
get  all  excited  about  elections,  and  I  sometimes  get  ex- 
cited about  elections.   There  are  certain  people  I  would 
hate  to  see  in  office,  and  there  are  some  in  office  now 
who  I  hate  to  see  there.   But  on  the  other  hand,  look, 
they  were  elected  by  the  populace,  and  the  populace  will 
eventually  become  disillusioned  with  them.   These  are  the 
risks  we  have  to  take  in  a  popular  form  of  government,  in 
a  democratic  form  of  government,  a  republican  form  of 

GARDNER:  We  have  a  little  bit  left  on  the  tape,  so  I'll 
follow  this  line  before  we  go  into  something  else.  What 
about  local  community  politicians,  people  like  city 


councilmen  that  you've  had  to  deal  with? 
EPSTEIN:   Well,  we've  had  some  good  men,  some  very  poor 
men.   I  think  we  have  a  good  man  in  office  right  now 
[Mayor  Tom  Bradley] .   His  predecessor,  I  never  did  like. 
He  was  a  snide  person. 

GARDNER:   You're  speaking  of  [Sam]  Yorty. 

EPSTEIN:   Yes.   He  attempted  to  degrade  everyone  who  was 
against  him.   He  had  a  way  of  remarking  about  people  which 
was  devious  in  a  sense  that  he  would  say  something  which 
was  not  of  itself  bad,  but  which  you  knew  that  he  meant  to 
say  for  a  denigrating  purpose.   I  think  one  of  my  pet 
peeves  has  been  the  Dodger  Stadium  affair.   You  know, 
for  that  reason  I've  never  been  to  Dodger  Stadium,  even 
though  I've  been  invited  to  go  free.   People  have  offered 
the  tickets  to  go  there,  and  I  just  won't  go.   Now,  whether 
I'll  continue  to  be  that  obstinate,  I  don't  know.   But  I 
think  that  was  a  scandal  that  should  have  been  dug  out  and 
dug  up.   In  my  own  mind  I'm  convinced  Norris  Poulson  prob- 
ably might  have  been — I'm  not  sure  that  he  was  paid  off, 
but  he  later  admitted  that  there  was  quite  a  bit  of  hanky- 
panky  going  on.   Those  were  the  exact  terms  that  he  used. 
But  he  was  determined  to  get  a  baseball  team  for  Los  Angeles 
at  any  cost.   Well,  the  stupid  person--in  my  mind  he  was 
stupid.   I  think  the  Dodger  people  were  so  anxious  to  get 
out  of  Brooklyn  that  they  would  have  given  anything  to 
come  here,  that  we  did  not  have  to  give  them  a  ball  park 


and  build  roads  for  them  and  give  them  all  that  very 
valuable  land.   If  it  could  be  used  for  a  ball  park,  the 
city  could  have  used  it  for  recreation  for  its  own  citizens, 
if  not  for  other  things.   Now,  they  need  land  for  this  thing, 
they  need  land  for  that  thing--for  storage  warehouses  and 
one  thing  and  another--and  the  city  has  to  go  out  and  pay 
millions  of  dollars  for  land.   And  here  they  gave  them 
excellent  land.   Of  course,  it  might  have  cost  money  for 
the  city  to  grade  it  and  that,  but  they  did  spend  the 
money  anyway.   You  know,  when  they  say  that  the  city  spent 
X  number  of  dollars,  I  estimate  in  my  own  mind  that  what- 
ever figure  they  use  as  x,  the  total  expense  was  probably 
5x,  because  of  all  the  necessary  things  they  did  for  pre- 
paration--the  boulevards  they  built  to  get  to  the  ball 
park,  the  off ramps  that  they  made.   Well,  fine,  it's  nec- 
essary.  But  if  somebody  comes  in  and  wants  to  do  it  as  a 
private  enterprise,  what  is  the  city  getting  out  of  it? 
He  has  a  very  successful  operation,  but  the  city  gets 
nothing  out  of  it.   They've  got  a  little  bit  of  playground, 
I  think;  and  then  one  other  piece  of  ground  that  was  prom- 
ised to  the  city,  I  don't  know  whether  they  ever  gave  it 
or  not.   My  memory  fails  me  on  all  the  details.   That's 
one  of  my  pet  peeves.   [tape  stopped] 

GARDNER:   What  about  local  councilmen  and  so  forth  with 
whom  you've  had  to  work  around  Hollywood?   Was  any  of 
them  good,  bad? 


EPSTEIN:   Well,  actually,  we've  never  had  to  work  very 
much  with  our  local  councilmen.   They  don't  affect  our  bus- 
ness  in  any  particular  way,  except  the  only  one  who  tried 
to  actually  get  into  the  hair  of  our  business  was  a  man 
we  knew  very  well,  a  neighbor  of  ours  who  had  a  building 
across  the  street--he  had  the  medical  building  just  on  the 
opposite  side  of  the  street  from  where  we  were--whom  we 
considered  quite  a  good  friend  and  whom  we  supported  with 
money  in  his  campaign--Paul  Lamport.   The  first  thing 
when  he  got  in,  he  wanted  to  make  a  Park  Avenue  out  of 
Hollywood  Boulevard.   And  he  wanted  to  get  fine  stores 
and  fine  hotels.   So  he  immediately  started  a  campaign 
against  secondhand  bookstores  or  bookstores  or  anything 
that  didn't  suit  his  conception. 


JULY  2,  1974 

EPSTEIN:   Paul,  whom  I  knew  quite  well  and  Aaron  knew 
quite  well  (we  worked  together  on  various  projects  for 
the  community,  chamber  of  commerce  and  whatnot) ,  turned 
out  to  be  a  very  self-seeking  person.   He  had  this  medical 
building;  he  wanted  to  advance  his  property — which  we  all 
do.   We  owned  property  on  Hollywood  Boulevard,  too,  at 
that  time.   But  he,  as  I  said,  thought  to  make  it  a  Park 
Avenue  or  Fifth  Avenue,  New  York.   He  missed  the  boat 
by  forty-five  years.   He  immediately  started  a  campaign 
against  Pickwick  Bookshop  having  their  display  on  the  out- 
side of  the  shop,  which  had  been  there  for  thirty-some-odd 
years  and  nobody  complained  about  it.   And  he  picked  out 
several  shops  that  were — in  the  way  of  drawing  people  to 
Hollywood  Boulevard--some  of  the  leading  shops  that  there 
are.   The  Wax  Museum,  which  happened  to  be  in  the  block 
where  his  building  is,  he  attacked  very  much.   And  the 
building  was  owned  by  a  Matt  Silvers,  who  helped  support 
Hollywood  for  many,  many  years  before  Paul  came  into  the 
picture.   Paul,  I  think,  was  an  opportunist.   Well,  he  was 
a  crony  of  Yorty.   Yorty  put  him  up  for  council,  and  he 
was  elected.   And  immediately  on  his  election  he  started 
throwing  his  weight  around.   But  fortunately  he  was  de- 
feated the  first  time  around.   He  antagonized  everyone  whom 


he  had  to  work  with,  because  he  wanted  to  impose  only 
his  ideas.   He  antagonized  a  lot  of  property  owners 
around  there.   He  was  going  to  tell  them  what  was  to  be 
built  on  their  street  and  what  not.   The  people  living 
on  North  Curson,  v/hich  ends  in  a  small  canyon:   he  was 
all  for  opening  up  that  little  canyon  for  building.   It 
was  totally  unsuited,  the  street.   Curson  is  comparatively 
narrow,  and  he  antagonized  half  of  the  Hollywood  community. 
At  any  rate,  there  was  an  example  of  a  man  who  had  no  busi- 
ness in  politics.   He  never  should  have  been  elected.   All 
he  saw  in  politics  was  to  gain  ends  that  would  be  beneficial 
to  him  and  to  people  around  him.   That  is  the  kind  of  local 
politics  that  I  will  fight  against.   Most  of  the  time,  we 
take  a  moderate  view  of  the  man  who  is  our  councilperson. 
GARDNER:   And  have  very  little  dealings  with  him? 
EPSTEIN:   No,  except  as  supporters  of  the  chamber  of  com- 
merce when  we  were  in  business  and  other  community  things 
that  we  were  involved  with  then.   I  never  directly,  through 
the  chamber  of  commerce's  executive  secretary,  would  have 
to  approach  them,  and  we  became  acquainted  with  them.   As 
our  business  grew,  we  were  considered  major  people  in  the 
community  of  business  on  Hollywood  Boulevard,  so  they  would 
come  to  visit  us,  just  to  be  introduced  and  leave  an  idea 
that  they  thought  might  happen,  sometimes  to  talk  over 
something.   We  always  stated  our  politics.   I  don't  con- 
sider it  politics:   we  stated  our  position  clearly  to  them, 


and  if  we  liked  it,  we  backed  it  up  with  maybe  a  few 
dollars  from  time  to  time  when  it  needed  it.   If  it  was 
a  candidate  that  we  thought  was  admirable,  we  helped  with 
money--which  is  as  I  think  every  good  citizen  would  and 
should,  considering  that  costs  of  campaigns  are  so  fan- 
tastically high  now.   Everybody  seems  to  think  that  the 
more  money  they  spend,  the  more  successful  they  will  be 
in  their  election.   I  can  assume  that  some  money  is  ab- 
solutely necessary  now  with  the  days  of  widespread  communi- 

GARDNER:   You  mentioned  before  a  case  having  to  do  with 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  that  was  a  purely  almost  personal  thing 
as  to  the  Pickwick.   We  had  a  bookkeeper  who  just  took 
advantage  of  our  lack  of  following  our  own  rules,  a  dis- 
regard of  our  own  rules.   The  chap's  name  was  Joe  Herman. 
We  hired  him  as  a  bookkeeper,  and  we  thought  he  was  an 
excellent  bookkeeper.   He  was  very  willing  to  do  whatever 
we  asked  of  him,  had  figures  ready  for  us  whenever  we 
wanted  them.   He  was  very  pleasant,  and  we  got  very  well 
acquainted.   We'd  eat  together  two  or  three  times  a  week, 
eat  our  lunches  together.   But  here  again,  if  you  don't 
know  a  person's  background,  you  really  can  be  seriously 
hurt.   The  people  whom  we  inquired  of  when  we  hired  him, 
where  he  worked  before,  gave  him  an  excellent  recommendation, 
But  we  learned  later  why.   At  any  rate,  one  January  fifth 


or  sixth  or  seventh--!  don't  know  the  exact  date;  he  used 
to  come  in  early  to  open  the  store  and  go  to  the  safe  and 
count  the  money  and  so  forth — he  wasn't  there.   We  looked 
where  the  money  was  supposed  to  be,  and  it  wasn't  there. 
And  we  started  looking  around  for  other  things,  and  they 
weren't  there.   At  any  rate,  we  discovered  that  the  man 
took  off  with  a  woman--although  he  had  a  wife  and  a  number 
of  children--and  that  by  the  best  of  our  accounting  he 
absconded  with  about  $35,000  in  cash.   And  he  did  it  this 
way:   during  the  Christmas  rush,  we  were  all  so  eager  to 
work  hard  and  make  sales,  we  neglected  to  watch  our  bank 
balances  and  bank  deposits.   He  would  deposit  the  checks, 
but  not  the  cash.   Well,  between  about  the  fifteenth  or 
twentieth  of  December  and  fifth  of  January,  a  lot  of  actual 
cash  comes  through  that  cash  drawer,  and  that's  what  he 
took.   Then  he  destroyed  all  the  cash  records  and  things 
like  that.   The  actual  amount  probably  might  have  been 
higher  except  we  had  no  other  way  to  check  the  accounts 
absolutely.   We  had  our  cash  register  tapes,  and  we  had 
our  checks,  and  we  took  the  difference  between.   But  there 
are  other  areas  which  he  could  have  gotten.   Then  we  found 
that  he  had  made  entries  in  the  books  previously.   He  was 
a  very  clever  guy — he  did  it  very  cleverly — but  he  was 
eventually  caught.   We  had  a  hell  of  a  time  proving  a 
case  against  him.   It  was  only  because  I  had  kept  a  daily 
record  that  he  gave  me  each  day  during  the  course  of  the 


Christinas  business,  comparing  Christmas  day  by  day  to 
the  year  previous.   And  he  would  give  it  to  me  on  little 
yellow  slips  the  size  of  a  three-by-five  card,  which  at 
the  end,  when  they  got  the  final  results  for  the  year,  I 
should  have  thrown  away.   But  for  some  reason  or  other, 
I  threw  those  daily  slips  into  [a  drawer] .   I  must  have 
been  changing  clothes  and  I  needed  a  new  handkerchief; 
these  might  have  been  in  my  back  pocket.   I  just  threw 
them  down,  and  they  got  into  that  drawer.   And  I  dis- 
covered those  slips  six  months  later  during  the  time  when 
our  case  looked  very  doubtful  and  the  district  attorney 
told  us  it  was  doubtful.   He  almost  was  on  the  point  of 
dropping  it. 

GARDNER:   Why  was  it  doubtful? 

EPSTEIN:   Because  bookkeeping  cases  are  extremely  hard  to 
prove  to  a  jury.   We  had  no  original  records.   He  destroyed 
them.   All  we  had  was  the  cash-register  tape  and  our  bank 
deposits.   He  didn't  think  that  the  jury  would  go  for  that. 
But  when  I  discovered  those  slips  in  his  handwriting,  in 
which  he  said,  "This  is  what  we  took  in,"  then  it  verified 
the  cash-register  tapes.   They  could  say  somebody  could  run 
a  tape  off,  set  the  register  to  run  a  tape  off,  which  he 
was  trying  to  say.   So  when  I  found  that,  I  called  the  pros- 
ecuting attorney  and  I  told  him  what  I  found.   He  said, 
"Bring  those  down  right  away.   [claps  hands]   This  clinches 
our  case."   And  sure  enough,  it  did.   Oh,  they  tried  every 


which  way.   He  tried  to  say  that  Stackhouse — our  manager-- 
and  I  kept  a  duplicate  set  of  books  for  tax  purposes  to 
cheat  the  income  tax  people,  tried  to  say  that  Stack  and  I 
stole  the  money.   There  wasn't  a  thing  that  he  wouldn't 
try  to  do,  but  of  course,  he  v/as  very  evasive  on  the  stand. 
Well,  he  was  convicted.   And  he  appealed  the  case,  and  he 
was  in  jail  because  he  couldn't  raise  bond.   Well,  some- 
body furnished  bond  for  him.   And  while  he  was  out  on  appeal, 
he  got  another  job  and  did  the  same  damn  thing.   He's  never 
been  found  since.   He  ran  off.   When  he  knew  that  his  trail 
was  getting  warm,  he  ran  off. 
GARDNER:   That's  incredible. 

EPSTEIN:   That  is_  incredible.   They've  never  found  him.   A 
very  smooth  talker  and  a  very  likable  guy.   He'll  do  any- 
thing for  you. 

GARDNER:   Were  there  any  tidbits  like  this  that  happened 
with  other  bookshops  around  town? 

EPSTEIN:   Oh,  we've  had  dishonest  employees  who've  gotten 
away  with  $1,000,  $1 , 200--branch  managers.   Yes,  those 
things  have  happened  to  other  shops.   It  happens  in  every 
type  of  business.   Sometimes  a  good  man,  for  some  reason 
of  pressure  or  something,  will  go  sour  all  of  a  sudden, 
and  he'll  almost  compel  himself  to  do  something--not  be- 
cause he  wants  to,  but  because  he  feels  he  needs  the  money 
to  defend  himself  against  something  or  whatever  purposes. 
Human  nature's  a  peculiar  thing.   Many  good  people  are  very 


often  forced  into  situations  in  which  they  have  no  control 
over  their  actions.   They  really  don't  want  to  do  it;  they 
know  it's  wrong;  they  don't  want  to  do  it.   But  they  feel 
compelled  to  do  it.   Maybe  they  get  in  a  bad  social  circxim- 
stance  in  which  money  might  buy  them  out  or  give  them 
temporary  relief.   Sometimes  they  do  something  wrong  and 
are  blackmailed  into  various  things.   I  think  most  crimes 
are  committed — that  type  of  crime--because  the  money's 
right  there  in  front  of  them;  and  they  just  think,  well, 
they'll  outsmart  the  other  person.   And  many  of  them  just 
take  the  money  and  run — without  a  plan.   This  man  had  a 
plan,  and  we've  had  other  bookkeepers  who've  gotten  away 
with  minor  amounts  of  money.   But  when  you  meet  them 
later  and  ask  them,  "Why  do  you  do  it?"   (It  just  happened 
to  me.)   "Well,  I  needed  some  money."   I  said,  "Well,  what 
did  you  need  it  for?   Why  didn't  you  ask  me  for  some  money? 
You  know  my  door's  always  been  open  for  a  hundred,  two 
hundred  sometimes,  when  one  of  my  employees  gets  in  a 
jam--or  even  more."   But,  well,  he  felt  it  wouldn't  be 
the  right  thing  or  he  didn't  want  to  confide  in  me  or 
whatever.   That's  the  type  of  thing  that  happens. 
GARDNER:   Maybe  this  would  be  a  good  point  to  talk  in  a 
little  detail  about  some  of  the  Pickwick  employees.   Last 
time  we  talked  about  Stackhouse  to  some  degree,  and  in 
talking  about  Hecate  County  we  mentioned  Herman  Mann. 
Maybe  you'd  like  to  talk  about  him  in  more  detail,  describe 


his  affiliation. 

EPSTEIN:   VJell,  I  think  I  mentioned  Herman  Mann  before. 
Herman  was  probably  the  nicest  person  whom  we  ever  met, 
in  the  sense  that  he  was  very  cooperative,  very  con- 
scientious, very  honest,  very  mild-mannered--almost 
saintly,  in  a  sense — and  extremely  loyal.   Now,  he 
worked,  as  I  mentioned,  with  Abraham  and  Straus  in 
Brooklyn.   And  he  became  a  very  good  friend  of  the 
family,  in  every  sense.   We  included  him  in  almost 
every  family  affair  that  we've  had. 

But  he  would  not  take  responsibilities.   He  would 
not  assume  responsibilities.   He  was  unable  to  tell  any- 
one else  to  do  something.   Whether  it  was  fear--I  suppose 
it's  a  type  of  fear — of  antagonizing  anyone,  but  he  would 
rather  do  some  things  himself.   And  for  that  reason  he 
never  was  pushed  up  into  higher  ranks  of  the  business. 
And  he  was  satisfied.   He  knew  it.   He  was  satisfied  to 
be  in  the  position  he  was.   He  was  one  of  our  senior 
clerks.   We  gave  him  as  much  responsibility  as  we  thought 
he  could  stand,  or  that  he  wanted.   And  he  had  the  respect 
of  everyone  he  ever  came  in  contact  with.   He  would  go  to 
great  lengths  to  seek  out  a  book  for  a  customer.   On  his 
days  off  he  would  go  around  looking  for  books  that  his 
customers  asked  him  for.   And  very  often  he'd  run  across 
some  very  hard-to-find  things.   The  poor  man  developed  a 
bad  heart.   Ann  thinks  that  he  must  have  had  rheumatic 


fever  when  he  was  a  youngster  because  he  never  was  a 
person  of  great  energy.   And  he  died — about  five  years 
ago  now. 

We  had  a  number  of  other  employees  who  were  interest- 
ing in  the  sense  that  they  were  good  book  people  or  had 
other  characteristics.   Ben  Latting,  who  has  been  with 
the  company  for  a  great  many  years,  is  an  excellent  book- 
man.  He,  too,  for  years  fought  off  responsibility  because 
of  his  temperament.   It  was  a  different  type  of  temperament 
from  Herman  Mann,  much  more  forceful  and  much  stronger. 
But  because  of  his  belief  that  no  man  should  govern  another, 
for  that  reason  he  wouldn't  take  responsibilities  to  tell 
people  what  to  do  and  see  that  they  do  it — and  suffer  the 
consequence  if  they  didn't  do  it.   Of  course,  responsibility 
gives  you  a  certain  authority  to  use  it.   But  lately  he  has 
turned  around  a  little  bit.   He's  still  with  the  company. 
He's  a  very  fine  person  but  hard  to  warm  up  to.   He 
doesn't  warm  up  to  people.   People  think  that  he's  aloof, 
and  in  some  ways  he  is.   But  a  very  good  bookman--he  knows 
his  books  thoroughly.   He's  been  a  good  employee  to  the 

GARDNER:   How  long  has  he  been  there? 

EPSTEIN:   Oh,  he  worked  downtown  for  the  Argonaut  with 
Ben  for  a  great  many  years.   Altogether,  he's  been  with 
the  Pickwick  at  least  twenty-five  years. 

Guy  Thompson  has  been  with  Pickwick  a  good  many  years 


and  is  now  one  of  the  managers  of  the  store.   Reliable 
and  resourceful.   He  is  of  Greek  origin.   Good  bookman, 
but  has  to  work  under  a  very  restrictive  system  for  a 
good  bookman. 

Lloyd  Harkema  has  just  retired.   We  went  to  a 
dinner  v/ith  him.   All  the  group  around  the  Pickwick 
wanted  to  give  him  quite  a  nice  dinner  or  luncheon  or 
whatever,  but  he  wouldn't  go  for  it.   He  insisted,  no, 
he'd  rather  go  individually  to  lunch  with  others  from 
time  to  time.   He  was  a  very  good  employee  in  many  ways. 
Lloyd  is  the  kind  of  a  guy  who  wants  to  be  too  good  to 
too  many  people — or  good  to  everybody,  I  should  say,  which 
is  difficult  to  do,  [and]  which  got  him  into  a  good  many 
difficulties,  not  great  difficulties  but  sometimes  em- 
barrassing situations  because  so  many  people  whom  you 
meet  are  out  to  take  advantage  of  you.   And  a  great  many 
people  did  take  advantage  of  Lloyd.   He  was  almost  naive 
about  certain  things.   But  he  meant  very  well,  and  he  was 
very  loyal  to  the  shop.   He  always  tried  hard  to  make  as 
many  good  sales  as  he  could,  and  he  did.   And  he  was  able 
to  handle  situations  sometimes,  assuage  a  customer's  anger 
or  take  over  a  situation  that  was  turning  bad  with  some 
clerk  who  was  being  obstinate  or  whatever.   (The  customer 
becomes  angry,  you  know.   It's  a  two-way  deal.   Sometimes 
the  customer  becomes  obstinate,  and  if  the  clerk  becomes 
obstinate  at  the  same  time,  you're  in  trouble.   The  theory 


I  used  to  try  to  propound  to  my  people:   "When  this 
guy's  hot,  you  stay  cool" — which  is  a  good  theory,  if 
you  can  control  it  to  some  extent.)   But  Lloyd  on  the 
whole  was  an  excellent  employee,  and  Pickwick,  I  think, 
is  going  to  miss  him,  miss  him  in  the  sense  that  he  lent 
a  certain  amount  of  personality  to  the  store.   He  knew 
so  many  people  individually.   Now  the  only  person  left 
who's  been  there  any  length  of  time,  who  works  on  the 
floor,  is  Ben  Latting.   And  Ben  is  not  the  outgoing  type 
that  Lloyd  was.   However,  I'm  sure  Pickwick  will  survive. 
GARDNER:   What  was  Lloyd  Harkema's  background? 
EPSTEIN:   He  came  from  New  England.   He  came  to  us  after 
army  service.   He  had  attained  the  rank  of  a  captain.   He 
tried  selling  insurance,  and  he  tried  working  as  a  detail 
man  for  some  large  grocery  company,  I  think,  or  Standard 
Brands  or  something  like  that.   But  he  didn't  like  it,  or 
for  whatever  reason  he  left  them  and  came  to  Hollywood,  I 
think,  with  the  idea  of  becoming  an  actor.   Especially 
people  just  out  of  the  army,  they  build  up  these  things. 
But  he  always  was  a  visionary  of  one  kind  or  another.   He 
came  in  and  asked  for  a  job,  which  we  gave  him.   He  liked 
the  job.   But  then  later  on  he  studied  acting,  and  later 
on  he  studied  other  things.   But  apparently  he  found  out 
that  he  wasn't  suited  for  it,  and  he  was  smart  enough  to 
maintain  his  job  with  us  while  he  was  trying  other  things 
He  tried  being  an  agent  for  a  while.   But  those  things 


just  weren't  for  him;  he  just  didn't  have  the  total  back- 
ground, the  total  personality  for  it.   So  he  always  came 
back  to  the  book  business.   Then  he  decided,  well,  he'd 
better  stay  with  it  now.   He  got  those  other  things  out 
of  his  system.   He  became  a  good  bookman.   He  had  an 
excellent  memory  for  people  and  faces  and  their  back-" 
grounds;  and  very  often,  with  my  horrible  memory  for 
names  and  faces,  I  would  use  him  as  my  tool.   We  developed 
a  code  that  if  I'd  give  him  a  certain  kind  of  a  nudge,  he 
knew  to  look  up  and  tell  me  who  was  coming.   [laughter] 
I  would  know  the  person,  I  would  converse  with  him,  but 
I  would  be  darned  if  I  could  remember  the  name.   I  would 
remember  what  they  bought,  the  kind  of  books  they  collected, 
but  I  couldn't  remember  the  name.   And  I  will  think  of  it 

Oh,  I  could  describe  many  other  people  who  worked 
for  us,  but  I  don't  know  if  they'd  be  of  any  special  in- 
terest to  anyone.   There's  a  certain  attraction  about  a 
bookstore  that  brings  a  type  of  person--sometimes  the 
rebellious  type  who  can  get  lost  in  books,  who  can't 
maintain  a  job  anywhere  else,  in  the  sense  that  the 
discipline  of  a  bookstore  is  different  from  the  disci- 
pline of  an  office  or  the  discipline  of  a  factory.   They 
can  forget  about  discipline  when  they're  thinking  of  the 
books  they're  selling,  the  ideas.   We  had  people  who  were 
so  in  love  with  books  that  they  couldn't  do  their  work. 


There's  a  chap  who  now  works  for  another  bookstore 
[Tony  Russo]--whom  I  happened  to  bump  into,  as  a  matter 
of  fact;  I  went  into  the  store  he  works  at  just  purpose- 
ly to  see  him.   He's  an  excellent  bookman.   I'm  speaking 
of  the  days  when  we  had  problems  with  him.   He  would 
never  be  available  to  do  the  work  of  a  bookstore.   He 
would  always  have  his  nose  in  a  book  or  a  periodical  or 
a  piece  of  paper.   He  could  not  resist  the  reading  of 
type.   He  told  me  the  other  day--there  was  a  third  per- 
son there,  and  I  mentioned  to  that  third  person  that  my 
biggest  problem  with  so-and-so  is  that  I  couldn't  get  him 
to  get  his  eyes  off  type,  that  it  was  an  attraction  he 
couldn't  resist.   It  could  be  anything.   This  little  piece 
of  paper  here,  or  any  other.   He  told  me,  "You  know,  Mr.  E, 
my  wife  complains  about  this  very  same  thing.   I'll  be  sit- 
ting at  the  breakfast  table,  and  I'll  read  all  the  things 
around  the  boxes  of  the  breakfast  food  if  there  was  noth- 
ing else  to  read."   But  he's  an  extremely  intelligent  guy, 
and  I  think  he's  overcoming  that  to  quite  a  degree.   I 
think  he's  disciplined  himself.   But  can  you  imagine  that 
that  was  the  only  thing  I  could  find  wrong  with  the  man? 
But  it  was  a  terrible  thing  that  he  became,  in  a  sense, 
almost  useless  to  us  because  of  that.   And  we  tried  to 
break  him  of  that  habit.   He  knew  that  he  was  wasting 
half  his  days.   But  we  would  give  him  a  box  of  books  to 
open,  and  he  would  have  to  find  out  exactly  what  each  one 


was  about--which  was  great  if  there  wasn't  other  work  to 
do.   But  he  would  never  have  an  opportunity  to  use  that 
knowledge  in  the  store  because  he  would  never  find  time 
to  wait  on  the  customer. 

Then  v;e  had  the  usual  number  of  failures  and  people 
who  were  this,  that,  or  the  other.   We  had  some  people 
whom  we  had  trouble  with  because  they  were  on  drugs,  which 
we  didn't  know  for  some  time,  [and]  a  number  of  Hollywood 
people  who  wanted  to  make  Hollywood  and  couldn't,  which 
is  inherent  to  the  community. 

GARDNER:   Well,  when  you  had  the  secondhand  shop,  people 
like  Bennett  and  Marshall  and  so  on  passed  through.   Were 
there  any  later  during  your  new-book  period  who  moved  on 
to  their  own  shops? 

EPSTEIN:   No,  Bennett  and  Marshall,  I  think,  were  the 
last  of  those  who  came  and  later  opened  their  own  shops. 
Marshall  worked  for  me  ^^7hen  I  was  still  on  Eighth  Street. 
We  hired  Bob  Bennett  when  we  first  opened  Pickwick  on 
Hollywood  Boulevard.   They  were  much  too  high  caliber  for 
the  jobs  that  we  had  to  offer  at  that  time.   Had  they 
come  at  their  age  after  we'd  established  the  Pickwick, 
where  we  could  have  used  the  qualities  they  had  to  a 
greater  degree,  I  doubt  whether  we  could  have  retained 
them,  because  I  think  their  ambition  was  quite  high  and 
their  capabilities  were  quite  high.   But  this  was  during 
the  Depression  years,  and  they  were  capable  people  holding 


down  very  minor  jobs.   Of  course,  they  were  both  much 
younger.   They  were  both  very  young,  as  we  all  were  at 
that  time.   When  Dick  Marshall  worked  for  me,  I  think, 
well,  I  might  have  been  a  year  or  two  older  than  he, 
because  he  was  not.  ...   I  don't  recollect  how  old 
Dick  was  when  he  died.   At  any  rate,  Dick  worked  for 
us  for  a  while,  then  left  and  went  into  buying  and  sell- 
ing of  books.   Then  he  went  to  work  for  Dawson.   And  later 
on  Bob  Bennett  worked  for  Dawson. 

They  came  up  at  a  very  fast  pace.   They  were  very 
fortunate.   They  found  one  or  two  customers  who  were  very 
wealthy,  who  took  a  great  interest  in  their  becoming  a 
success.   They  backed  them  with  either  buying  a  lot  of 
things  from  them  from  time  to  time,  loaning  them  money 
to  buy  larger  libraries  than  they  could  afford,  and 
introduced  them  to  other  wealthy  people.   One  of  the 
women  in  particular,  so  the  story  was  told  to  me,  would 
hold  a  salon  and  have  them  bring  their  books,  or  other 
things,  and  have  these  wealthy  women  come  in  on  that 
particular  day.   And  they  would  do  their  selling  act. 
They  were  good  salesmen.   They  were  nice  personalities, 
in  the  sense  they  could  explain  to  people  how  these  things 
could  be  handled. 

Bob  was  a  very  fine  person.   Dick  was  a  harder  person 
and  more  aggressive  in  the  sense  that  he  wanted  to  make 
money  much  faster  than  he  did,  although  they  did  extremely 


well  towards  their  later  years.   But  they  had  a  struggle. 
My  brother  tells  me--he  was  right  across  the  street  from 
them,  and  he  knew  them  at  a  certain  time  much  better  than 
I  did  during  that  period--that  they  were  having  a  hard 
time  until  this  certain  woman  became  very  much  interested 
in  them  and  really  gave  them  a  terrific  push  up,  which 
helped  them  a  great  deal.   I  suppose  they  were  deserving 
of  it,  because  Bob  probably  provided  this  woman  with  a 
lot  of  things  she  wanted  and  needed.   To  her,  it  was  a 
thing.   She  was  a  maiden  lady  who  had  to  have  some  kind 
of  an  interest,  and  books  were  her  interest.   She  wanted 
to  spread  it.   It's  a  give  and  take.   She  got  something 
and  they  got  something. 

GARDNER:   There  was  one  name  that  I  found  when  I  was  going 
through  this  list  of  the  antiquarians  who  was  affiliated 
with  Pickwick,  Robert  Wettereau. 

EPSTEIN:   Oh,  Bob  Wettereau,  oh,  yes.   Bob  Wettereau — 
the  poor  man  has  since  died.   It's  just  horrible  for  me 
to  have  to  tell  you  of  all  the  people  who  died,  and  they 
died  before  their  time.   Bob  was  certainly  not  old  enough 
to  have  died.   He  died  while  on  a  trip  to  Europe.   Bob  was 
a  very  fine  young  man.   He  came  to  work  for  us.   His  back- 
ground I  don't  think  too  much  about,  except  that  he  mar- 
ried this  girl  from  Texas,  a  very  fine  girl,  and  they  had 
their  first  child  while  he  was  working  for  us.   He  came 
to  me  as  a  clerk.   He  was  far  above  average  in  intelligence-- 


far  above  what  the  average  clerk's  intelligence  was — 
and  his  interests  were  much  higher  and  more  literary. 
He  was  greatly  interested  in  art,  and  he  had  a  good 
knowledge  of  art.   As  a  matter  of  fact,  he  later  went 
to  work  for  Flax  in  Westwood  and  built  up  a  very  fine 
business  in  art  books  for  them  simply  because  of  his 
own  knowledge.   Now,  what's  happened,  that  department  I 
hear  has  gone  almost  to  pot.   The  last  I  heard,  they 
hired  a  buyer  who  at  one  time  had  worked  for  us  to  do 
the  buying;  when  I  heard  that  she  was  going  to  be  the 
buyer,  I  knew  that  she  could  not  do  the  job,  didn't 
have  the  background  involved  for  it.   At  any  rate.  Bob 
stayed  with  us  for  quite  a  while.   We  tried  to  develop 
an  art  department  which  he  could  run,  but  we  just  didn't 
have  the  resources  for  it  at  the  time.   And  he  tried  very 
hard,  and  he  developed  a  lot.   Then  we  gave  that  idea  up 
and  put  him  in  charge  of  paperbacks;  and  he  did  very  well 
with  that--as  far  as  he  could  at  that  time.   Whatever  he 
did,  he  did  well.   He  was  a  good  talker.   The  only  complaint 
we  might  have  had  is  that  there  were  too  many  discussions 
going  on  when  there  might  have  been  other  work  to  do.   But 
that's  to  be  expected  of  that  type  of  a  person.   However, 
our  type  of  business  didn't  allow  for  a  great  deal  of  ex- 
penditures of  time  on  individual  customers.   And  he  is  the 
person  whom  Anais  Nin  became  very  close  with.   I  think  she 
took  advantage  of  him  in  many  instances  by  inducing  him  to 


give  her  much  more  space  than  she  was  entitled  to  at 
the  time  and  getting  him  to  do  things  which  were  more 
to  her  interest  than  to  the  shop's  interest.   In  spite 
of  the  fact  that  she  looks  like  an  ethereal  person,  al- 
most to  be  blown  away,  goodness,  she  was  a  hard  person. 
At  least,  she  proved  herself  in  dealing  with  us.   Very- 
pushy.   But  that  is  her  nature. 

GARDNER:   We  went  through  that  last  time,  right. 
EPSTEIN:   You  have  my  account  of  what  happened,  her  go- 
ing out  and  taking  the  responsibility  of  buying  books 
for  us.   That  really  tripped  me  up.   But  Bob  left  us  and 
went  to  work  for  Flax.   He  did  an  excellent  job  there, 
and  I  was  sorry  to  hear  that  he  died  at  such  an  early  age. 
GARDNER:   Any  other  Pickwick  employees  you'd  like  to  run 

ESPTEIN:   There  are  a  few  I'd  like  to  mention — for  other 
reasons  than  their  qualities.   [laughter]   For  the  most 
part,  I've  mentioned  those  that  have  done  well  for  us  now. 
Of  course,  Elliot  Leonard,  I  gave  you  his  background,  and 
I've  told  you  a  good  deal  about  Stackhouse  and  his  service 
with  the  Pickwick.   During  the  formative  days  of  the  Pick- 
wick, Stackhouse  was  the  keystone  of  the  business.   He 
carried  on  for  a  good  many  years,  for  which  we're  very 
thankful.   Although  he  was  rather  proud  of  the  Pickwick's 
progress  later,  I  don't  think  he  completely  liked  the  ex- 
pansion and  the  way  it  affected  him,  in  the  sense  that 


his  end  of  the  business,  the  remainder  business,  was 
circumscribed  somewhat.   We  got  so  large,  we  had  to 
carry  such  a  large  inventory,  that  the  company  complained 
about  it--rightfully.   That  was  his  style  of  doing  busi- 
ness; it  was  the  antithesis  of  the  way  a  large  company 
operates.   Whereas  we  didn't  pay  strict  attention  to 
inventory  figures  and  were  still  quite  profitable — and 
I  think  the  fact  that  we  didn't  pay  strict  attention  to 
inventory  figures  in  the  sense  that  we  would  want  to 
control  our  inventory  and  make  it  as  small  as  possible. 
We  worked  almost  the  other  way.   We  carried  a  tremendous 
inventory  of  books  that  no  one  else  would  carry.   And  we 
could  rightly  be  accused  of  not  being  overbusinesslike 
because  of  that.   It  probably  would  have  been  more 
profitable  if  we  had  carried  fewer  copies  of  the  books 
we  did  carry,  and  maybe  fewer  titles.   But  as  long  as 
the  business  was  showing  a  good  profit,  why,  I  felt-- 
and  he  felt--that  maybe  that's  the  secret  of  our  success, 
by  not  being  too  businesslike.   And  there  is  something  to 
that--at  least  for  a  business  of  our  type.   If  we  were 
selling  shirts  and  so  forth,  we  would  have  accurate 
figures  of  exactly  how  many  we  sell  of  a  certain  size; 
we'd  have  to  choose  at  the  end.   In  my  buying,  I  had  to 
choose  for  almost  40,000  titles  a  year,  plus  all  the  books 
that  had  ever  been  published  before  that  were  still  in 
print.   I  had  a  greed  for  titles,  you  might  say.   I  don't 


know  what  other  expression  to  use.   I  wanted  to  have  as 
many  titles  as  possible — if  I  thought  they  were  good 
books,  very  often,  if  I  knew  there  was  a  demand  for  them, 
even  if  I  knew  that  they  were  not  good  books.   They  were 
not  books  that  went  out  to  make  people  bad,  but  they  might 
have  been  badly  written  or  maybe  too  amateurish.   But  if 
there  were  enough  amateurs  who  wanted  them  and  didn't 
want  the  better  books,  then  we  gave  them  the  book  that 
they  wanted.   It  was  not  our  province  to  tell  them.   We 
tried  to  tell  them,  "Put  the  two,  one  next  to  the  other 
and  show  them.   This  is  the  better  one."   Like  in  the  in- 
stance of  selling  dictionaries:   People  ask  me,  "Which  is 
the  best  dictionary?"   Well,  you  really  can't  give  them  an 
answer.   You  can,  perhaps,  in  telling  them,  "Well,  the  best 
one,  of  course,  is  the  unabridged."   But  when  they  get  into 
the  collegiate  size  and  the  smaller  ones,  it's  hard  to  tell 
a  person  v/hich  is  the  best.   Each  has  some  points  about  it 
that  make  it  superior  in  that  particular  category  to  the 
other.   Some  people  will  buy  a  dictionary  simply  because 
the  type  is  better;  they  can  read  it.   Other  people  will 
want  to  know  how  many  different  kinds  of  entries,  and 
what  type  of  spelling  or  orthographies  they  have,  or 
what  hints  they  have  on  how  to  use  words.   How  can  one 
tell  really  which  is  the  best  book  for  the  person?   Very 
often  we  could,  and  we  did,  tell  them.   That  is  the  reason 
we  always  carry  such  a  variety  of  things.   If  I  made  up  my 


mind  that  the  World  Publishing  Company  was  the  best 
dictionary,  and  my  customer  says  no,  he  wants  a  Merriam, 
I'm  not  about  to  stop  and  argue  with  him  and  say,  "Look, 
you' re  wrong. " 

I  walked  out  of  a  store  the  other  day  because  I 
went  in  to  buy  something,  went  in  to  buy  a  filler  for 
a  fountain  pen.   Now,  how  can  you  think  that  two  people 
can  become  involved  in  an  argument  about  a  filler  for  a 
fountain  pen?   Well,  I  have  a  Cross  pen,  and  I  want  a 
certain  color.   And  this  girl  showed  me  a  color  which 
was  a  blue-black  instead  of  a  black.   And  I  wanted  a 
black.   I  wouldn't  mind  if  she  had  tried  to  explain  to 
me  that  these  are  practically  similar.   She  thought  they 
were  similar.   But  she  used  the  term,  "Are  you  trying  to 
tell  me  that  I  don't  know?"   Which  of  course  antagonized 
me.   I  said,  "Look,  lady,  I'm  not  trying  to  tell  you  any- 
thing here.   Goodbye."   And  I  walked  right  out. 

But  this  is  the  kind  of  a  thing:   we  try  never  to  have 
a  person  argue  with  a  customer.   We  tried  to  have  a  variety 
to  show  them.   But  if  they  chose  the  lesser  one,  well,  may- 
be that's  why  the  lesser  one  was  published.   We  always 
tried  to  tell  them,  "Look,  never  argue  with  a  customer, 
even  if  you  know  that  the  customer  is  wrong.   Just  say, 
'Well,  maybe.   Maybe  you're  right,'  if  the  person  particular 
is  adamant,  because  number  one,  you're  not  going  to  change 
his  mind  if  they're  that  adamant,  and  number  two,  why  argue 


with  them?   You  have  nothing  to  gain,  absolutely  nothing 
to  gain,  and  you'll  lose  a  customer.   Don't  make  it  a 
personal  matter  unless  he  insults  you  or  something  like 
that."   We  did  tell  our  people  that  they  should  not  argue, 
but  by  the  same  token,  that  they  did  not  have  to  take  in- 
sults from  anyone;  and  if  necessary,  call  me,  and  if  I 
can't  make  peace  and  they're  insulting  to  you,  I  will  ask 
them  to  leave.   And  I  have  done  that.   I  feel  that  is  the 
least  that  I  could  do  to  maintain  the  morale  of  ray  people. 
They're  entitled  to  that  backing.   But  I  said,  "By  the 
same  token,  I  want  you  to  be  extremely  honest  with  the  cus- 
tomer and  tell  them  only  things  that  you  know.   Don't  tell 
them  things  that  you  don't  know." 

GARDNER:   One  thing  that  I  don't  think  we've  covered  ade- 
quately is  the  expansion  of  Pickwick--not  the  later  one, 
but  just  taking  over  the  saloon. 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  taking  over  the  saloon  is--the  way  we  say 
that,  "taking  over  the  saloon,"  sounds  very  funny.   I  think 
the  only  reason  it's  ever  mentioned  is  that  some  people 
have  written  that  it's  the  only  time  in  history  where  books 
have  done  better  business  than  liquor.   It's  the  same  loca- 
tion.  We  were  very  proud  that  we  could  accomplish  that 
trick.   The  original  shop,  as  you  know,  was  only  twenty-six 
feet  wide,  and  as  we  grew  and  started  developing  our  stock 
of  new  books,  we  had  to  force  our  old  books  upstairs  and 
our  remainders  upstairs.   And  the  new-book  business  was 


was  growing.   We  were  just  totally  running  out  of  room. 
Well,  next  door,  the  forty-foot  building  to  the  west  of 
us,  the  corner,  was  being  operated  as  a  saloon,  as  a 
bar,  and  a  portion  of  it  was  a  little  tiny  restaurant. 
And  the  landlord  was  having  a  hard  time  with  the  tenants, 
and  the  tenants  were  having  a  hard  time  because  the  bar 
was  being  constantly  raided  and  had  a  very  bad  reputation 
for  the  type  of  clientele  it  handled.   So  the  bar  finally 
moved  out.   The  landlord  came  to  us  and  told  us  that  we 
should  buy  it.   Well,  we  would  have  loved  to  have  had  it, 
but  there  was  a  matter  of  money.   Finally  we  worked  out 
a  deal  where  we  could  give  him  enough  money  to  satisfy 
the  down  payment,  and  we  broke  through  the  thing  and 
created  the  larger  store.   It  was  a  two-story  building, 
and  above  that  were  apartments.   Later,  we  took  over  the 
apartments  for  offices. 

That  allowed  us  to  almost  double  our  merchandise  in- 
ventory and  create  a  better  mix.   We  then  went  into  the 
paperback  business  in  a  real  way.   We  built  what  was  then 
the  largest  paperback  department  in  the  city.   And  we  had 
to  learn  how  to  sell  paperbacks.   But  the  involvement  was- 
it  was  a  real  estate  transaction  which  turned  out  very 
fortuitously  for  us. 

It  caused  a  great  deal  of  troxible  during  the  re- 
modeling period.   The  city  gave  us  a  lot  of  trouble.   It 
was  an  old  building  and,  of  course,  not  up  to  modern 


building  standards.   And  if  you  recollect,  several  earth- 
quakes have  happened  since  that  building  was  built.   And 
after  each  earthquake  the  building  standards  become  more 
strict  in  certain  areas  of  construction.   Well,  we  had  to 
have  an  entry  between  the  two  buildings.   And  we  had  a 
heck  of  a  time  trying  to  get  the  approval  of  the  building 
department  because  the  building  was  not  concrete  and  steel. 
The  foundation  was  concrete,  but  then  it  was  brick  up  above 
that.   Well,  we  finally  worked  out  a  deal  with  the  city 
where  [within]  that  opening  between  the  two  stores,  which 
was  much  smaller  than  we  wanted,  we  had  to  practically 
build  a  separate  little  construction  piece,  a  separate 
little  building,  you  might  call  it,  in  that  shape.   All 
around  that  is  concrete  and  steel.   [tape  stopped]   That 
is  an  archway  built  of  concrete  and  steel  which  will 
support  the  building.   It's  much  stronger  than  the  orig- 
inal building.   We  tore  out  a  cement  foundation  for  that 
building  which  was  about  four  feet  deep,  solid  cement. 
We  had  to  tear  out  two  foundations  of  two  buildings. 
And  one  of  them,  the  older  building--we  had  a  devil  of 
a  time  getting  it  out.   Anyway,  we  had  to  tear  out  in 
some  areas  four  feet  deep  of  concrete,  heavy  concrete. 
The  corner  building  wasn't  as  well  constructed — about 
three  feet.   And  put  in  a  four- foot  deep  concrete  and 
steel  foundation.   And  I'll  tell  you,  concrete  and  lots 
and  lots  of  steel  to  help  support  the  upper  floor  of 


the  building.   They  explained  to  us  the  steel  prevents 
lateral  stress.   Concrete  does  not  resist  lateral  stress. 
Now,  in  case  you  ever  build  a  building,  you'll  remember 
that.   [laughter] 

It  was  an  eventful  occasion  in  the  sense  that  it 
was  something  that  had  never  been  done — a  bookstore 
puishing  out  a  bar.   And  on  the  boulevard,  of  course, 
it  meant  that  we  would  have  a  great  big  sign.   And  it 
was  greeted  with  a  great  deal  of  delight  by  our  customers 
when  they  found  that  they  could  have  more  room  to  look  at 
books  and  more  books  to  look  at.   You  know,  book  people-- 
if  you  had  a  building  three  times  that  big,  they  would 
still  look  at  most  of  the  books  in  that  store.   Some  peo- 
ple will  go  from  one  section  to  the  other,  and  you'll  be 
amazed  what  they'll  come  up  with,  and  they  sometimes  are 


JULY  2,  1974 

GARDNER:   Now,  you  have  in  front  of  you  once  again  the 
list  of  the  bookstores  that  you  compiled  from  the  tele- 
phone directory.   If  you'd  like  to  run  through  a  few  and 
comment  on  them.  .  .  . 

EPSTEIN:   As  I  told  you,  I  made  a  rather  sketchy  rundown 
of  the  phone  books  at  the  phone  company  for  that  period 
in  order  to  refresh  my  memory  about  some  of  the  people 
whom  I  knew  throughout  the  years.   Now,  we  covered  up 
through  about  1940,  and  I  see  here  in  my  notes  for  1941 
the  Beverly  Hills  Book  and  Record  Shop  at  350  North 
Beverly  Drive.   I  remember  that  shop  very  well  because 
I  used  to  drop  in  there,  and  I  still  know  the  people  who 
used  to  run  it.   Bill  Smith,  who  later  on  went  into  the 
book  business  in  Carmel  Valley  up  in  California,  had  a 
nice  store  there--which  was  a  curious  store  in  that  they 
sold  books  and  cakes.   His  wife  was  an  excellent  baker; 
so  she  would  bake  special  cakes  for  people,  and  he  would 
sell  the  books.   And  his  brother-in-law,  Joe  Mittenthal — 
Joe  Mittenthal  still  sells  books,  but  he's  now  a  publisher's 
representative.   He  represents  Crown  and  Scribner's  and 
several  other  publishers  in  the  areas  outside  of  Los  Angeles, 
practically  in  the  six,  seven,  or  eight  western  states. 
They  were  good  book  people,  and  they  were  very  nice  people. 


Curiously  enough,  Bill  Smith's  father  was  a  very  good 
customer  of  mine;  he  used  to  collect  a  lot  of  books. 
And  I  think  the  father  made  some  money  in  the  lumber 
business,  as  I  recollect  him  telling  me.   He  probably 
put  up  the  money  for  the  first  venture,  because  it  was 
immediately  following  the  Depression,  and  they  were  both 
of  them  young,  and  I'm  positive  they  never  had  any  money. 

At  any  rate,  they  lasted  there,  oh,  about  two,  three 
years,  and  they  just  didn't  quite  make  it.   And  I  believe 
that  it  was  [Walter]  Martindale  who  bought  their  store 
because  he  didn't  want  any  competition  too  close  to  him. 
And  then  he  gave  up  the  store.   And  I  believe  it's  the 
same  store  that  later  was  taken  over  for  a  bookstore  by 
Brentano's  when  they  entered  the  territory.   They  had  a 
store  on  Seventh  Street  and  then  one  in  Beverly  Hills. 
They  eventually  gave  it  up  because  they  couldn't  transfer 
the  image  of  Brentano's  to  the  Los  Angeles  area.   By  that 
time,  the  image  of  Brentano's  had  been  greatly  tarnished, 
because  during  the  Depression  they  lost  a  lot  of  their 
stores  and  it  was  not  the  store  that  people  had  been 
accustomed  to  seeing,  a  Brentano's  store  as  of  before  the 
Depression,  "all  the  world's  books"  and  so  forth.   That's 
the  history  of  that  store. 

And  I  notice  in  my  notes  that  I  have  Fredrick  Dahlstrom 
on  710  West  Sixth  Street.   Fredrick  Dahlstrom  later  com- 
bined with  someone  else  and  became  the  Bookman's  Shop.   But 


I  can't  recollect  the  name  of  the  man  he  combined  with. 
At  any  rate,  it  was  a  store  that  didn't  last  very  long. 
[bell  rings;  tape  stopped]   Then  there  was  Everybody's 
Bookshop.   It  started  about  a  block  and  a  half  from  my 
West  Eighth  Street  store.   The  chap's  name  was  [Saul] 
Elstein — I'm  trying  to  think  of  what  his  first  name  was — 
a  very  nice  old  man.   The  name  of  Everybody's  Bookshop  is 
still  going  on,  and  the  grandson  [Steve]  is  now  running 
it  on  West  Sixth  Street  in  downtown  Los  Angeles.   A  great 
deal  of  the  business  is  secondhand  magazines.   I  don't 
think  the  original  Mr.  Elstein' s  son  [Herbert]  developed 
it  in  the  right  direction.   The  young  man  who's  running 
it  now,  I  don't  know  how  well  he's  doing,  but  from  my 
point  of  view  I  don't  think  he's  doing  that  well.   And 
Martindale  was  already  in  business,  of  course,  on  Santa 
Monica  Boulevard. 

GARDNER:   Which  Martindale  is  that? 

EPSTEIN:   Walter.   Of  course,  he  was  in  business  for  many 
years  before  1941.   But  he  got  into  the  book  business  in  a 
curious  way.   I  may  have  told  you  earlier  that  I  had  met 
the  whole  Martindale  family,  the  three  sons  and  the  father. 
They  were  originally  in  the  cigar  and  magazine  business. 
They  had  cigar  stands  and  magazines.   They  had  a  store  on 
West  Sixth  Street  when  I  opened  my  first  shop  in  Los  Angeles 
on  West  Sixth  Street.   I  was  two  or  three  doors  away  from 
their  cigar  stand  and  magazine  shop,  and  at  that  time  I 


met  them  all. 

Walter  broke  away  from  his  father's  business,  one 
of  the  first  of  the  three.   They  eventually  all  broke 
away.   Walter  broke  away  and  he  started  a  place  on  Santa 
Monica  Boulevard  in  Beverly  Hills.   But  it  was  also  cigars 
and  magazines.   Next  door  to  him  was  an  older  woman  who 
was  running  a  circulating  library.   It  was  a  tiny  place, 
and  she  was  getting  tired  of  it  and,  I  don't  imagine,  made 
very  much  money  at  it.   She  tried  to  sell  it  and  couldn't 
find  any  buyers  for  it.   So  she  told  Walter  to  take  it 
and  pay  her  off  whatever  little  he  could  afford  out  of 
the  circulating  library  business  as  he  made  it.   That's 
how  he  got  it.   And  then  he  developed  it  from  that.   He 
gave  up  the  circulating  library  and  went  into  the  regular 
book  business.   And  gradually,  along  with  his  magazines, 
he  established  quite  a  big  business.   You're  aware  that 
Walter  has  already  sold  his  business,  his  four  stores  now, 
to  Doubleday. 
GARDNER:   Yes. 

EPSTEIN:   That  just  recently  happened;  it's  been  verified. 
I  understand  they're  already  beginning  to  tear  out  and 

GARDNER:   I've  heard  that.   I  don't  know.   Before  you  go 
on  to  the  next  one,  maybe  you  can  give  a  little  bit  of  the 
Martindale  family  history  as  it  developed,  because  I  under- 
stand it's  a  curious  one — a  Gothic  one;  put  it  that  way. 


EPSTEIN:   I  can't  speak  for  it  as  really  family  history, 
only  as  they  relate  to  the  book  business.   I  can't  cornment 
on  their  character.   They  were  much  rougher  people  than 
most  booksellers  were  at  the  time.   Bill  Martindale,  in 
Santa  Monica,  runs  a  store.   He  runs  a  pretty  fair  store. 
It's  not  a  literary  store  in  a  sense.   He  himself  never 
professed  to  be  a  bookman,  but  he  has  people  whom  he  has 
confidence  in  and  [who]  run  a  pretty  fair  sort  of  busi- 
ness.  There  was  another  brother — let's  see,  was  it  Dick? — 
I  think  Dick.   There  was  Bill,  Dick,  Walter.   At  any  rate, 
there  was  another  brother  who  later  went  into  the  book 
business.   He  had  a  bookstore  on  Wilshire  Boulevard,  not 
too  far  from  La  Brea,  on  the  south  side  of  the  street.   It 
was  also  magazines  and  books  and  circulating  library.   He 
tried  to  follow  the  pattern  he  knew.   He  knew  magazines 
best  because  he  was  born  and  raised  in  it.   Then  they 
added  books.   But  he  sold  out  and  moved  up  to  a  place 
called  Paradise,  California.   He  moved  up  to  Paradise, 
California,  and  I  understand  he's  still  running  a  small 
bookstore  there.   This  one  that  moved  up  north  had  an 
alcoholic  problem.   In  that  way  he  was  an  unfortunate  per- 
son.  The  father  was  a  rough  sort  of  a  person.   The  mother 
is  still  living  [since  dead] ,  is  very  old,  and  I  understand 
she  just  moved  into  a  rest  home  or  something  such  as  that. 

But  the  family  never  got  along  well  together.   The 
brothers  had  quarrels  with  each  other,  and  the  wives  of 


the  brothers,  for  one  reason  or  another,  never  got  along. 
But  Walter  and  his  wife  were  the  most  successful  ones. 
I  think  Virginia  had  an  awful  lot  to  do  with  it.   I  think 
she's  a  very  level-headed  woman,  very  practical,  and  has 
a  good  business  head  on  her.   Somewhere  along  the  line 
Walter  and  Virginia  made  a  lot  of  money.   It  could  not 
have  been  in  books.   It  may  have  to  do  with  some  fortunate 
investments,  because  Walter  flies  his  own  plane  still.   At 
one  time  he  had  two  planes.   He  had  a  home  in  Malibu  plus 
his  home  in  Beverly  Hills  at  a  time  when  most  booksellers 
were  barely  making  a  decent  living — including  myself,  who 
was  supposed  to  be  one  of  the  kingpins;  v/e  were  living 
very  modestly.   We  had  no  money  for  airplanes--that ' s  for 
sure.   And  that's  about  the  size  of  it. 

People  working  for  Walter  were  always  unhappy.   And 
I'm  not  saying  this  in  any  derogatory  sense  to  Walter.   He 
always  believed  that  if  you  came  to  work  for  him,  you 
should  work  just  as  hard  as  he  does.   And  of  course  some 
people  just  don't  work  as  hard  as  others.   Otherwise  they 
might  not  be  clerks  in  the  bookstore — or  a  clerk  anywhere 
else.   Usually  people  who  work  very,  very  hard  and  in- 
telligently wind  up  doing  something  different  from  just 
selling  books  for  somebody  else.   Of  course,  I  always  had 
that  tendency,  too--I  always  had  that  belief,  too--but  per- 
haps I  curbed  my  style  a  little  more  than  his,  although  a 
great  many  of  the  people  working  for  me  told  me  that  I  was 


a  driver,  and  I  was.   But  perhaps  I  used  a  little  bit 
more  velvet  on  my  glove.   [laughter] 

But  on  the  whole  Walter's  a  very  decent  person.   He 
has  certain  ideals,  and  he  lives  up  to  them  100  percent. 
If  he  thinks  a  thing  is  wrong,  he  just  won't  do  it.   If 
a  thing  is  right,  he  insists  on  it  being  done.   Maybe 
there's  not  enough  leeway  between  white  and  black  in  his 
character.   But  Virginia's  a  much  more  practical  person — 
she,  too,  very  hardheaded.   There  were  other  family  prob- 
lems in  the  family — and  most  families  have  problems  of 
which  I'm  aware--but  I  don't  think  it  should  appear  in 
anything  like  this. 

GARDNER:   Okay.   Then  you  can  continue  down  the  list. 
EPSTEIN:   There's  a  chap,  just  for  the  record,  by  the 
name  of  O.C.  Nielsen,  who  had  a  magazine  service  at  7064 
Hollywood  Boulevard.   He  had  mostly  magazines  and  did 
some  research  work  for  libraries.   He  also  had  books.   He 
and  I,  although  we're  theoretically  competitors,  got  along 
beautifully.   He  sold  out  his  business  and  retired  to  some 
part-time  business  and  was  very  happy  with  it.   He  never 
had  any  great  ambition  to  make  a  lot  of  money. 

Then  of  course  we  spoke  about  Bennett  and  Marshall, 
They  appeared  on  the  scene  as  proprietors  in  1942,  as  a 
definite  address.   They  had  been  working  out  of  their  home, 
I  think,  for  a  little  while  before  that.   They  built  a  nice 
store — had  a  rough  time,  as  most  beginners  did  in  that  period, 


They  gradually  built  up  a  very  decent  business. 

Then  there  was  quite  a  famous  shop  in  Pasadena,  the 
Brown  shop.   It  was  being  run  by  Lloyd  Severe.   Of  course, 
Pasadena's  book  business,  you  know,  was  dominated  by 
Vroman ' s .   Lloyd  Severe  at  one  time,  I  think,  worked  for 
Vroman's.'  Oh,  no.  Brown,  Mr.  [Herbert  F.]  Brown,  at  one 
time  worked  for  Vroman's.   And  Mr.  Vroman  frankly  told 
him  that  he  ought  to  open  a  shop  of  his  own.   If  he  was 
going  to  have  a  competitor,  he'd  rather  have  a  fellow 
like  Brown  than  maybe  some  other  upstart  coming  in  who 
didn't  know  anything  about  the  book  business.   So  Brown 
opened  a  shop  at  190  East  Colorado  Street.   That's  where 
I  first  knew  them.   They  may  have  had  another  location  of 
which  I'm  not  aware.   And  Lloyd  Severe--in  1942,  Lloyd 
Severe  was  already  running  the  book  department  of  Brown's. 
Brown's  went  into  the  stationery  business  also  and  de- 
veloped a  pretty  fair  business  in  commercial  stationery. 
But  they  never  had  the  success  that  Vroman's  did.   Vroman's 
cover  the  area  like  a  blanket.   And,  of  course,  Pasadena 
was  a  very  social,  "in"  city.   And  if  you  were  in,  you 
were  in;  if  you  were  out,  you  weren't  quite  in.   And  that's 
the  position  Brown's  occupied  to  Vroman's.   It  wasn't  till 
later  years  that  the  scene  started  changing,  and  the  mixture 
of  people  in  Pasadena  changed  so  radically  that  I  think  if 
it  was  any  other  store  besides  Vroman's,  they  might  not 
have  been  doing  so  well.   But  I  think  Vroman's  still  carries 


a  great  deal  of  weight,  and  they  run  an  excellent  shop. 
They're  doing  quite  well.   Now,  Lloyd  Severe,  who  was  in 
the  book  business  about  fifty  years,  was  recently  honored 
by  the  Masquers.   Unfortunately,  we  had  another  family 
affair  that  we  just  couldn't  possibly  skip  on  the  same 
evening.   I  would  have  loved  to  have  been  there.   We 
sent  him  a  letter  about  it  telling  him.   Later,  we  were 
in  touch  with  him,  and  they  said  they  appreciate  the  fact 
that  we  did  send  the  letter  and  contributed  something  for 
him.   He  did  a  great  deal  of  work  for  the  Southern  Cali- 
fornia Booksellers  Association  over  the  years.   He  was 
the  kind  of  a  guy  that  could  tie  a  lot  of  ends  together. 
And  he  also  worked  on  the  "Cavalcade  of  Books"  TV  program. 
He  was  an  assistant  to  Jack  Case.   After  he  left  the  book 
business,  he  worked  with  Jack  Case  for  a  number  of  years, 
helping  him  to  run  that  program,  the  "Cavalcade  of  Books." 
Thoroughly  dedicated  to  books,  and  a  very  fine  character. 
His  wife,  Gladys,  too,  was  right  there  with  him  all  the 
time.   But  he  never  owned  any  portion  of  the  business,  un- 
fortunately, and  I  don't  know  that  Mr.  Brown  ever  gave 
him  too  much  salary.   He's  far  from  destitute.   He's  liv- 
ing happily;  there's  no  lack  of  a  livelihood.   But  for  all 
the  years  he  spent  in  the  business,  he  came  out  of  it  with 
not  too  much. 

GARDNER:   What  was  his  background?   Where  was  he  before 
Brown' s? 


EPSTEIN:   Well,  he  came  out  of  Iowa.   He  boasted  about 
the  fact.   And  I  think  Brown  came  out  of  Iowa.   You  know, 
Iowa  provided  a  great  deal  of  the  immigrants  in  the  early 
days  for  all  of  Southern  California,  especially  Long  Beach 
and  that  area  there. 

There  is  one  kind  of  a  bookstore  that  I  would  like  to 
mention  as  a  kind  of  a  thing  a  person  with  a  will  can  do 
if  they  dedicate  themselves  to  it,  and  that  was  the  Jewish- 
American  Bookshop.   That  appeared  on  the  scene  on  South 
Fairfax  in  1942.   But  the  story  of  that  bookshop  goes  back 
much  further.   I  don't  know  if  I  mentioned  it  before. 
GARDNER:   You  mentioned  it  in  a  different  context,  not  as 
called  the  Jewish-American  bookstores. 

EPSTEIN:   Yes,  as  Mrs.  Blatt's.   That  to  me  was  always  a 
very  fine  example  of  a  person's  dedication  to  an  idea  of 
trying  to  fill  a  need  of  something  that  she  felt  was  there. 
And  she  was  absolutely  right.   She  succeeded  very  well  for 
a  great  many  years  in  the  Jewish-American  Bookshop  on  Fairfax, 
was  doing  rather  well;  but  of  course  later  the  mother  be- 
came sick  and  the  daughter  was  running  it  by  herself.   I 
understand  now  that  it's  been  closed,  I  think  since  we 
started  our  talks.   And  Miss  Lucille  Blatt — the  daughter 
never  married — is  now  working  for  Harelick  and  Roth,  which 
is  a  Jewish  bookstore  that's  a  very  up-and-coming  operation. 
GARDNER:   Where  is  that?   Also  on  Fairfax? 
EPSTEIN:   That's  on  La  Cienega  opposite  Temple  Beth  Am,  just 


below  Olympic.   That  shop  is  doing  rather  well. 

In  1942  Ver  Brugge  Books — not  Zeitlin-Ver  Brugge — 
Ver  Brugge  Books  is  listed  as  having  an  address  at  1806 
West  Seventh  Street.   Now,  that  was  a  separate  business 
temporarily  from  Zeitlin-Ver  Brugge.   You  wouldn't  re- 
collect this  because  you're  too  young:   1806  West  Seventh 
was  the  site  of  the  Otis  Art  Institute.   In  back  of  the 
Otis  Art  Institute  was  a  large  old-fashioned  carriage 
house,  stables  or  carriage  house.   Jake  rented  that  and 
used  the  bottom  for  sales,  and  an  upper  balcony--!  don't 
think  Jake  fixed  up  those  rooms,  but  there  were  rooms. 
Now,  whether  they  were  originally  constructed  when  the 
building  was  constructed  or  later,  maybe  those  rooms  were 
constructed  originally  for  the  people  who  worked  the 
horses  and  the  carriages.   But  at  any  rate,  they  had  that 
place  there,  and  they  operated  from  there  for  many  years. 
Now,  I  don't  recollect  exactly  what  Josephine  Ver  Brugge 
was  doing  which  was  separate  from  Jake.   I  think  she  was 
doing  periodicals,  maybe,  because  they  later  came  into  the 
periodicals  business.   But  at  any  rate,  that  was  that  big 
barn  back  of  the  Otis  Art  Institute. 

I  remember  one  time  Jake  and  I--he  had  access  to  some 
duplicates  from  the  UC  Library  at  Berkeley.   They  had  a 
tremendous  number  of  books  stored  under  the  stadium  at 
Berkeley.   Jake  had  very  little  money.   I  had  a  trifle 
more  than  a  little,  so  he  came  to  me  and  said,  "Why  don't 


we  go  up  there,  buy  the  stuff?"   He'll  take  the  periodicals, 
and  I'll  take  the  books — which  we  did.   And  we  got  several 
loads,  great  big  truckload  of  stuff.   Then,  of  course, 
came  the  question  of  what  is  a  periodical  and  what  is 
a  book.   Is  a  book  in  series  a  periodical  if  it's  an 
actual  book  coming  out  intermittently  without  any  def- 
inite publication  day?   I  mean,  it's  a  serial  if  it  comes 
in  series.   Some  things  are  published  independently--it ' s 
called  a  certain  kind  of  a  series,  but  it  may  be  one  book 
in  five  years,  or  there  may  be  three  books  in  one  year.   So 
we  had  to  battle  that  out  amongst  ourselves.   We  finally 
came  to  a  compromise  on  that.   I  advanced  all  the  money, 
and  Jake  was  supposed  to  pay  me  out  as  he  sold  out  of 
the  periodicals.   Well,  the  thing  dragged  on  for  years. 
Finally  I  think  I  got  all  my  money  out  of  it.   Jake  thinks 
I  got  a  little  more  than  my  money  out  of  it.   We  still 
argue  about  it  sometimes  when  we  get  together.   But  it 
was  an  excellent  deal  for  both  of  us.   There  were  a  lot  of 
things  in  there  which  I  wish  I  had  kept,  because  some  of 
those  paperbound  things  later  became  very  scarce  because 
the  editions  were  small.   But  that  was  the  way  it  was  done 
in  those  days. 

Now,  coming  into  '43,  Holmes  had  now  become  a  little 
less  active.   He  still  had  several  stores  around,  but  I 
think  his  years  were  beginning  to  get  to  him.   And  not 
only  his  years--his  personality  was  beginning  to  be  affected, 


There  was  a  little  shop  opened  in  the  Farmer's 
Market  at  that  period  of  time  which  was  run  by  a  woman 
by  the  name  of  Deighton,  Lillian  Deighton.   Now,  the 
one  reason  I  mention  her  is  not  because  she  became  a 
very  successful  bookwoman,  although  she  ran  a  small 
bookshop,  like  all  things  in  the  Farmer's  Market,  on  a 
very  small  scale.   She  sold  cards  and  little  gifts  and 
a  smallish  selection  of  books.   But  the  reason  I  mention 
her  is  she  is  the  woman  who  did  all  of  the  research  for 
Gone  with  the  Wind.   She  was  working  for  a  studio--Selznick . 
She  used  to  come  into  Eighth  Street  and  bought  a  lot  of 
books  from  me.   I  got  an  idea  of  the  type  of  things  she 
needed  and  wanted,  and  I  made  a  special  effort  to  get  them 
for  her.   And  it  was  a  worthwhile  thing  because  she  had 
plenty  of  money  to  spend  and  we  could  get  the  things  she 
needed.   She  bought  them,  and  always  paid  a  fair  price, 
and  never  gave  us  any  problems  about  offering  us  less  than 
what  we  asked.   And  she  was  always  very  thankful  that  we 
did  find  things  for  her.   Then  when  we  moved  to  Hollywood, 
this  relationship  continued  for  many  years.   Finally 
Selznick  gave  up  the  studio,  and  she  was  out  of  a  job. 
So  she  came  and  talked  to  me,  and  she  said,  "I'd  like  to 
open  a  little  bookshop."   So  I  said,  "Well,  you  have  more 
background  and  knowledge  of  books  than  most  anybody  in  the 
book  business  at  the  time  they  started,  and  there's  no 
reason,  if  you  have  a  few  hundred  dollars,  that  you  can't 


gradually  build  it  up."   She  told  me  about  the  place  in 
the  Farmer's  Market,  and  I  said,  "Well,  you  get  a  lot  of 
traffic."   And  so  she  did,  and  she  made  a  living  at  it 
for  quite  a  while.   And  then  she  got  tired  and  gave  it 
up.   But  she  was  the  one  that  did  all  the  research  for 
the  Gone  with  the  Wind  picture — apparently  did  an  excel- 
lent job.   She  had  a  feel  for  what  she  needed.   She  knew 
what  she  needed  and  apparently  found  a  great  many  of  the 
things  she  needed  because  the  success  of  the  picture  was 
helped  by  all  of  the  various  sets  and  art  work  that  went 
into  it.   And  she  was  the  one  that  had  to  provide  all  the 
books  and  background  material  for  it. 

At  that  time,  Moby  Dick  moved  out  of  the  downtown  area. 
Strictly  for  the  record,  there  was  another  bookstore  that 
opened  to  fill  a  need,  and  that  was  in  the  Jewish  section 
of  Boyle  Heights  at  2212  Brooklyn  Avenue — Solomon's  Hebrew 
and  English  Bookstore.   Now,  to  this  day  there's  a  Solomon's 
Bookstore  on  Fairfax.   It's  still  in  business.   The  old 
gentleman,  Solomon,  was  a  very  good  friend  of  my  family 
when  they  were  in  business  in  Boyle  Heights  on  Brooklyn 
Avenue.   The  older  of  the  descendants  still  remember  my 
parents.   Once  in  a  while  when  I'm  around  there  shopping 
for  delicatessen  or  need  something,  I'll  drop  in.   Or 
around  the  holiday  season  I  will  need  some  special  kind 
of  candy  or  toys  for  the  children,  and  I  drop  in  and  say 
hello.   But  they're  still  operating.   They've  got  almost 


everything  now,  from  the  tallesin ,  which  means  the  prayer 
shawl,  and  the  phylacteries,  which  you  wear  around  your 
head  and  your  arms.   And  they  go  in  more  for  Orthodox 
things,  that  the  Orthodox  use.   They  all  speak  Hebrew  in 
there.   The  children  were  all  well  educated.   I  don't 
know  how  they  live  on  that  one  store--two  or  maybe  three 
families.   I  don't  know.   Maybe  part  of  them  have  other 
jobs,  too.   But  they  always  seem  to  be  around.   They've 
been  in  that  business  for  all  these  many,  many  years.   You 
can  buy  Passover  wine  there,  and  artifacts  from  Israel,  and 
Jewish  magazines.   But  they're  gradually  shifting  over  to 
things  that  are  non-Orthodox.   They  had  schoolbooks  for 
the  Orthodox  and  for  the  teachers.   But  now  I  think  a 
lot  of  that  business  is  going  away  because  the  children 
are  being  given  books,  and  I  suppose  the  teachers  are 
given  supplies.   They  probably  buy  direct  from  the  pub- 
lishers.  But  they  seem  to  be  doing  a  thriving  business 
with  other  types  of  things.   That's  an  outgrowth  of  some- 
thing from  Boyle  Heights.   I'm  always  trying  to  sell  the 
story  of  Boyle  Heights.   [laughter]   A  great  many  interest- 
ing, capable,  and  very  successful  people  came  out  of  Boyle 
Heights  around  that  period.   I  think  I  mentioned  a  few  of 
them  not  too  far  back. 

Then  in  1944,  skipping  very  quickly — I  have  a  note 
that  Bertha  G.  Blatt  was  the  name  of  the  mother  of  the 
Jewish-American  Bookstore,  the  mother  who  started  it. 


Lucille  was  the  daughter's  name.   She  gave  up  the  shop  and 
now  works  for  Harelick  and  Roth.   There  was  an  outfit  called 
Bookazine  started  up  on  Spring  Street  run  by  a  chap  by  the 
name  of  Harry  Dale.  He   was  a  flamboyant  type  of  person — 
big  talker  but  his  checks  bounced.   I'll  say  that  he  meant 
well,  and  he  had  a  lot  of  family  problems.   His  father  was 
supposed  to  be  in  the  business  before  him,  and  the  father 
developed  cancer  and  was  a  source  of  great  expense  for  a 
number  of  years.   He  just  clung  onto  life.   Hospitaliza- 
tion and  medication.   He  did  take  care  of  his  father  in 
that  respect.   It  was  touch  and  go.   But  his  big  break 
came  eventually--!  think  I  told  you,  I  mentioned  earlier-- 
when  Mr.  Holmes  sold  him  the  balance  of  his  stock,  for 
something  like  $8,000,  after  he  turned  down  an  offer  from 
Pickwick;  or  rather  he  was  asking  Pickwick  for  something 
like  close  to  $30,000  and  was  too  prideful  to  sell  to  the 
Pickwick  because  he  was  the  kingpin  and  I  was  the  young  man 
just  starting  in.   And  another  thing,  Stackhouse  had  worked 
for  him,  and  he  just  couldn't  stand  the  idea  of  selling  out 
to  a  store  where  his  former  employee  was  now  manager.   So 
he  took  a  terrific  loss  to  satisfy  his  pride.   But  by  that 
time  his  mind  was  almost  all  gone. 

That  made  Harry  Dale  into  a  big  operator.   Then  he 
started  a  bookstore  on  Hill  Street.   Then  he  went  into 
the  wholesale  record  business.   And  that  v^^^as  just  his  big 
thing,  because  he  really  went  out  and — sort  of  a  rack  jobber 


operation.   He  could  really  go  out  in  a  big  way.   But 
eventually  he  went  the  way  of  all  people  who  operate  in 
that  order.   By  the  time  he  passed  away,  his  wife  in- 
herited very  little.   There's  a  place  called  the  Bookazine, 
and  that  was  Harry  Dale's. 

There's  a  place  called  the  Argosy  Bookshop  on  5505 
Hollywood  Boulevard.   That,  too,  didn't  last  very  long. 
It  was  run  by  a  musician.   (I'm  trying  to  think  of  his 
name.   Somewhere  in  the  back  of  my  head  the  name  exists-- 
Loos  or  Roos  or  something  like  that.)   I  believe  he  was  a 
flutist  with  the  Los  Angeles  Philharmonic.   A  very  nice 
man.   It  was  one  of  those  things  to  run  as  a  fun  thing. 
He  and  I  got  along  very  well.   We  did  quite  a  bit  of  busi- 
ness together  over  a  period  of  years.   He  would  buy  from 
me;  I'd  buy  from  him.   When  I  was  in  the  old-book  business, 
I  bought  a  great  deal  from  other  dealers.   I  made  it  a 
point  to  visit  them,  because  they  would  give  me  a  discount. 
Sometimes  we  would  trade  for  things  they  needed,  for  things 
that  they  had  in  stock,  and  they  would  come  to  us. 

That  year,  also,  Brentano ' s  opened  at  611  West  Seventh; 
611,  if  you  know  your  downto\im  numbers,  is  directly  opposite 
Robinson's.   They  rented  a  store  there.   Karl  Placht,  who 
had  at  one  time  run  a  bookstore  in  New  York,  supposed  to 
be  a  very  fine  bookman,  came  out  here  and  tried  to  run  a 
Brentano-type  bookstore  out  here,  and  it  failed  dismally. 
In  the  first  place,  they  didn't  know  the  approach,  the 


type  of  people  they  had  to  deal  with,  and  they  didn't 
know  how  to  stock  a  store  properly  for  a  western  market. 
And  Brentano ' s  had  an  idea--and  this  is  no  criticism  of 
Karl,  because  a  lot  of  policies  he  had  to  work  under  were 
not  his.   They  were  given  to  him--directives.   They  just 
couldn't  figure  out  the  type  of  book  V'^hich  Los  Angeles 
needs.   They  would  send  him  all  kinds  of  things  that  he 
didn't  need,  and  overloaded  him  with  merchandise  that  he 
couldn't  use.   In  addition  to  that,  he  had  to  scramble 
on  his  own  for  the  things  he  was  getting  called  for.   But 
Karl  was  a  good  bookman,  and  he  later  became  a  representa- 
tive for  several  New  York  publishers.   He  became  a  pub- 
lisher's representative.   Let's  see,  who  did  he  have? 
I  think  he  had  Dutton  at  one  time  and  several  others, 
with  whom  he  had  done  a  good  job.   Karl  Placht  had  been 
a  president  of  the  American  Booksellers  Association  when 
he  was  in  retail  in  New  York.   We  became  quite  friendly. 
He's  now  retired  and  lives  in  some  retirement  village 
near  La  Jolla  or  in  that  area.   I  told  you  Brentano ' s 
also  had  a  store  in  Beverly  Hills. 

Joe  Chevalier  appears  on  the  scene  with  a  lending 
library  at  239  North  Larchmont.   Now,  Joe  is  still  operat- 
ing.  Of  course,  he  no  longer  has  a  lending  library.   Joe's 
a  very  fine  person,  pleasant,  not  overly  aggressive--prob- 
ably  not  aggressive  at  all  in  the  sense  that,  well,  he  has 
a  small  business,  he's  happy  with  it,  he  has  no  family  to 


raise,  he  has  a  v/ife  and  they  seem  to  get  along  very 
nicely  with  what  they  do.   He,  too,  at  one  time  was  a 
president  of  the  Southern  California  Booksellers  Associa- 
tion.  Incidentally,  in  speaking  of  Lloyd  Severe,  I  hope 
I  mentioned  that  he  had  been  a  president  of  the  Southern 
California  Booksellers  Association.   As  a  matter  of  fact, 
I  think  he  had  several  terms. 
GARDNER:   \Vhat  was  Chevalier's  background? 
EPSTEIN:   Well,  I  don't  know  too  much  about  his  back- 
ground other  than  he  appeared  and  there  he  was.   A  lot 
of  the  people,  I  know  something  about  their  background 
before  books,  but  a  lot  of  them  I  just  don't. 

Now,  I  mentioned  to  you  the  Hollywood  Bookstore, 
which  was  directly  across  the  street  from  the  Pickwick, 
or  almost  directly--slightly  west.   By  that  time  it  was 
owned  by  a  person  by  the  name  of  Allan  Weatherby.   Allan 
was  a  very  educated  guy — Harvard  man,  I  think — and  an 
awful  businessman.   And  he  was  having  a  few  psychological 
problems  of  one  kind  or  another.   He  eventually  had  to  sell 
the  business  or  lost  the  business.   And  the  name  was  bought 
out  by  someone  else.   But  now  the  name  of  Hollywood  Book- 
store is  almost  meaningless,  because  there  are  about  four 
or  five  stores  with  the  first  name — Hollywood  Bookland  and 
Hollywood  Book  Service  and  Hollywood  this,  that,  and  the 
other.   But  at  that  time  there  was  only  the  one  Hollywood 
Bookstore.   In  saying  that  the  name  is  meaningless,  I  don't 


mean  to  deprecate  the  stores  that  are  using  the  name 
similar  to  it,  but  it  has  no  relation  to  the  type  of 
thing  that  the  Hollywood  Bookstore  was.   As  a  matter 
of  fact,  most  of  them  are  secondhand  bookstores,  whereas 
the  Hollywood  Bookstore  at  one  time  was  the  bookstore  in 

Curiously — sometimes  it  surprises  me  no  end,  in 
looking  back — with  all  these  well-established  stores, 
Pickwick  was  able  to  prosper,  and  they  all  went  down. 
Some  people  say  that  my  competition  was  too  much  for  them. 
But  I  think  in  each  case  I  can  refute  that  by  saying  that 
almost  in  each  case  something  happened  to  the  management. 
They  lost  their  will,  or  they  lost  their  mind,  [laughter] 
or  they  lost  their  incentive,  or  they  inherited  a  lot  of 
money,  or  they  sold  out  to  somebody  who  didn't  know  the 
business.   And  nobody's  ever  accused  me  of  actually  try- 
ing to  put  a  competitor  out  of  business.   We  never  even 
had  the  thought.   But  we  worked  very  hard.   We  did  work 
very  hard,  and  I  know  we  worked  harder  than  a  lot  of  our 
competitors.   Allan  Weatherby  was  hardly  ever  at  his  busi- 
ness.  The  only  time  he  showed  up  was  when  he  needed  some 
money,  and  then  he'd  go  and  take  it  out  of  the  cash  register 
and  not  even  tell  anybody  about  it.   Stanley  Rose — I  already 
told  you  the  story  of  poor  Stanley — he  did  almost  the 
same.   Those  were  our  major  competitors  at  the  time.   In 
each  case,  something  happened  to  them.   I  don't  think  it 


was  because  we  tried  and  forced  them  out  of  business. 
I  don't  think  anybody's  ever  accused  us  of  that.  Our 
policy  was  strictly  cooperation. 

Incidentally,  I  mentioned  Allan  Weatherby  was  having 
problems.   Well,  I  understand  he's  since  straightened  out 
beautifully  and  now  teaches  at  some  college--Amherst  or 
somewhere  like  that--and  is  getting  along  very  nicely. 
But  he  was  having  rows  with  his  wife,  and  they  had  a 
child.   He  was  going  through  a  period,  I  guess. 

Harry  Wepplo  Bookstore — I  told  you  he  was  one  of 
those  who  was  arrested  in  the  Hecate  County  case.   Well, 
he  bought  out  Lofland,  which  previously  had  been  Lofland 
and  Russell,  a  secondhand-book  store  at  32  West  Sixth 
Street.   He  at  one  time  worked  for  Miller's,  across  the 
street.   And  I  told  you  the  story  of  Mr.  Miller,  who  had 
had  a  textbook  store  down  near  USC.   Harry  also  worked 
for  Pickwick  at  one  time,  which  I  think  I  mentioned.   It 
came  about  in  this  way.   He  was  working  for  Miller's,  and 
we  were  just  beginning  to  get  started  into  new  books.   He 
was  unhappy  at  Miller's.   As  I  pointed  out  to  you,  I  be- 
lieve, he  was  a  very  odd  person,  and  I  don't  think  anyone 
would  be  too  happy  working  for  him  for  any  length  of  time. 
He  heard  about  us  going  into  new  books,  and  he  came  in  and 
asked  for  the  job.   Stackhouse  and  I  talked  to  him — of 
course,  we  knew  him  well  because  we  used  to  exchange  things — 
and  we  hired  him.   Well,  Harry  in  many  ways  lacked  stability. 


He  wanted  to  do  everything  for  everybody,  no  matter  what 
the  expense  to  him  or  to  his  employer.   His  motives  were 
good,  but  his  executions  were  a  total  loss.   He  wanted  to 
satisfy  everybody  and  give  them  the  best  end  of  everything 
out  of  the  goodness  of  his  heart.   He  was  that  kind  of  a 
guy.   A  person  would  come  in,  and  he'd  say,  "Well,  I  can't 
afford  this."   And  he'd  say,  "Well,  take  it."   He  didn't 
care  if  it  belonged  to  him  or  belonged  to  his  boss, 
[laughter]   Well,  you  can  stand  a  little  bit  of  that, 
but  you  can't  stand  too  much  of  it.   And  his  buying  was 
the  same  way.   He  would  buy  huge  quantities.   He  started 
buying  for  us.   We  didn't  know  any  better.   We  thought 
that  if  he  bought  ten,  maybe  that's  a  good  buy.   But 
[with]  some  things,  ten  is  a  huge  amount;  and  other 
things,  a  hundred  is  a  small  amount~-depending  on  the 
title.   At  any  rate,  I  took  our  whole  family  to  Washington 
[D.C.]  to  visit  Ann's  people.   (She's,  of  course,  a  native 
of  Washington.)   And  when  we  got  back,  Stackhouse  told  me 
that  Harry  had  bought  all  the  remainder  of  the  books  of 
Houghton-Mifflin's  warehouse  in  San  Francisco.   Houghton- 
Mifflin  was  giving  up  the  San  Francisco  warehouse  and  con- 
solidating all  their  things  into  the  home  place  at  Boston. 
And  he  told  me  the  amount  of  money  involved,  and  he  showed 
me  the  list  of  what  it  was.   Well,  it  was  the  worst  batch 
of  material  you  ever  did  see — broken  sets,  odd  volumes  of 
sets,  two  volumes,  two  and  three,  out  of  a  five-volume 


set,  and  all  the  things  that  they  couldn't  possibly 
sell  which  they  left  in  their  warehouse  and  they  had 
to  dump  it  somewhere.   The  salesman--the  sheriff  of 
Petaluma,  they  called  him.   [phone  rings;  tape  stopped] 
The  Houghton-Mifflin  salesman  was  Harrison  Leusler,  a 
very  fine  man.   At  any  rate,  I  come  back  to  this  situa- 
tion.  It  involved  a  huge  sum,  something  like  $3,500. 
And  actually,  we  did  not  have  that  much  money.   Any 
money  coming  in  was  immediately  spent  for  more  books. 
You  can  tie  up  an  awful  lot  of  money  very  quickly  in  the 
new-book  business.   And  that's  what  we  were  doing,  be- 
cause our  business  was  doing  all  right.   Well,  Harry  had 
bought  all  these  books.   Knowing  this,  I  immediately  called 
Harrison  Leusler  and  I  said,  "Look,  Harrison,  I  can't 
accept  those  books.   Don't  ship  them.   If  you  ship  them, 
I'll  turn  them  away.   I  won't  accept  them."   And  then  I 
told  him,  "You  had  no  business  selling  those  books  with- 
out getting  a  confirmation.   Harry  is  entitled  to  buy  a 
line  from  you,  a  season's  books,  but  he  has  no  authority 
to  buy  a  whole  warehouse  full  of  books.   In  the  first 
place,  that's  Stackhouse ' s  job  because  those  are  the  re- 
mainders.  They're  not  classified  as  new  books."   Well,  at 
any  rate,  Harrison  said,  "Okay,  Louis,  don't.  ..."   Well, 
Harrison's  a  very  hard  salesman.   He ' s  a  nice  person,  but 
he  had  a  hard  sell.   He  tried  to  convince  me  that  it  was 
a  good  buy,  but  I  insisted  that  he  not  ship  them.   We 


finally  compromised  on  a  deal  of  about  ten  cents  a  book, 
and  we  came  out  all  right  on  it.   By  that  time  we  had  had 
enough  of  Wepplo.   How  he  got  into  the  deal  for  Lofland's 
store  I  don't  know,  as  Harry  could  never  save  a  dime.   He 
must  have  had  a  backer.   Who  it  was  I  don't  know.   But 
that  didn't  last  too  long,  and  he  opened  the  little  shop 
in  the  Farmer's  Market,  which  he  ran  for  several  years, 
and  finally  retired.   I  haven't  seen  him  in  years. 


JULY  15,  1974 

GARDNER:   We  left  off  last  time  in  the  midst  of  your 
monumental  list  of  the  booksellers.   I  thought  we'd  try- 
to  finish  that. 

EPSTEIN:   We  were  discussing  some  of  the  research  I  have 
done  from  memory  and  actually  at  the  phone  company.   About 
the  only  way  I  could  think  of  to  r\in  down  some  of  the  older 
booksellers  and  get  some  chronological  order  is  by  going 
through  the  yellow  directories  of  the  phone  company,  which 
I  did  on  several  occasions,  until  I  got  tired.   At  any 
rate,  I've  still  got  quite  a  number  left.   In  1945, 
Eugene  Bechtold:   he's  still  operating  in  the  social 
sciences.   At  that  time  he  was  at  257  South  Spring  Street. 
He  worked  for  Pickwick  for  a  while,  but  he  was  overmeticu- 
lous.   He  was  a  wonderful  person--as  a  person  he's  great — 
but  to  run  a  profit-making  business,  we  just  couldn't  give 
him  enough  time  to  do  the  work  and  classification  the  way 
he  liked  to  do  it.   And  if  he  was  interested  in  something, 
he  had  to  stop  and  read  all  about  it;  and  if  he  found 
someone  with  the  same  interest  as  he,  why,  that  was  the 
end  of  the  day  because  they  would  spend  the  rest  of  the 
day  talking.   This  is  by  no  means  a  criticism  of  the  man 
but  a  criticism  of  how  a  good  person  can  not  fit  into  a 
certain  type  of  business.   But  he's  very  knowledgeable 


and  is  doing  a  good  job  in  the  business  he's  in.   He 
works  for  himself  and  devotes  all  the  time  he  feels  is 
necessary  to  classifying  his  own  books  of  the  particular 

GARDNER:   When  I  was  looking  through  the  notes  on  the 
antiquarians,  at  that  point  he  was  on  his  own. 
EPSTEIN:   Yes,  1945  he  was  on  his  own. 
GARDNER:   At  that  point  he  was  doing  mail  order. 
EPSTEIN:   Right.   He  was  doing  a  mail  order  business, 
sort  of,  by  catalog  or  whatever.   But  he  had  worked  for 
me  at  one  time.   And  we're  still  good  friends.   Whenever 
we  meet,  we  have  great  respect  for  each  other. 

There  was  a  Lincoln  Bookshop,  which  had  several  ad- 
dresses.  The  last  one  they  had,  I  think,  was  on  Highland 
Avenue  north  of  Hollywood.   Now,  exactly  where  they  were 
in  194  5  I  don't  remember.   They  may  have  been  on  Highland 
near  Hollywood.   It  was  a  leftist  bookstore,  extreme  left. 
They  took,  of  course,  a  lot  of  punishment  in  those  days 
from  the  rightist  groups  and  the  headhunters. 
GARDNER:   Who  ran  it?   Do  you  recall? 

EPSTEIN:   I  don't  remember  their  names  now,  unfortunately. 
Mary  Gordon,  who  at  one  time  worked  for  us,  worked  there. 
She  was  a  rabid  leftist,  one  of  the  vociferous  ones.   But 
who  actually  ran  the  shop  at  the  time,  I  don't  know.   They 
were  not  too  far  away  from  us,  but  we  had  no  particular 


contact  except  that  Mary  would  come  in,  having  worked 
for  us,  to  visit  and  tell  us  a  few  things  and  leave  us 
some  literature.   [laughter] 

Harry  Wepplo,  I've  mentioned  before  as  being  in  the 
Hecate  County  case;  he  opened  in  the  Farmer's  Market.   He 
had  one  of  the  small  stores  facing  Fairfax  Boulevard.   He 
lasted  until  just  a  few  years  ago.   I  gave  you  a  good 
background  on  him. 

There  was  a  little  tiny  store  called  the  Boulevard 
Book  and  Art  Shop  in  the  same  block  as  Pickwick  was,  and 
it  was  run  by  a  chap — well,  it  was  run  by  a  couple;  the 
name  is  [Milton  and  Hazel  B.]  Goodhand.   And  they  had  been 
in  vaudeville  and  involved  in  the  theater,  that  type  of 
background.   They  had  a  little  circulating  library  still 
and  handled  a  few  other  odds  and  ends.   They're  very  nice 
people.   Later,  Mr.  Goodhand  went  to  work  for  Eddie  Gilbert. 
They're  both  gone  now.   He  was  with  Eddie  for  quite  some 

The  Abbey  Bookshop,  which  I  mentioned  earlier,  down- 
town on  West  Sixth  Street,  about  this  period  of  1946  changed 
hands  and  was  then  owned  by  a  chap  by  the  name  of  William 
Weiss,  who  had  been  a  musician.   And  he  bought  this  store 
to  run.   He  wanted  to  get  out  of  the  business  of  being  a 
musician,  but  I  don't  think  he  ever  quite  made  the  change 
because  the  store  never  was  that  profitable  for  him  to 
give  up  his  musical  career.   He  played  with  various  studios 


and  other  orchestras.   A  nice  man,  but  he  didn't  last 
long  in  the  trade.   I  think  he  later  sold  it  out  to 
Gideon  Herman.   Remember,  I  tried  to  think  of  Gideon's 
name  when  I  talked  about  the  Abbey  before?   It's  Gideon 
Berman,  an  Israeli. 

Then  Larson  came  into  the  picture,  [John  R. ]  Larson's 
Bookshop  on  Hollywood  Boulevard  just  west  of  VJestern  on 
the  south  side  of  the  street.   Very  peculiar  man,  and  he 
had  a  very  peculiar  wife.   I  guess  one  begats  the  other. 
[laughter]   He  was  in  magazines  and  then  went  into  meta- 
physical books  quite  heavily,  and  then  in  addition,  as 
I  say,  research  magazines  of  various  kinds,  runs  of  maga- 
zines.  And  he  built  up  a  fairly  substantial  business  in 
those  things  that  he  was  interested  in.   But  I  would  not 
consider  him  a  true  bookman  in  the  sense  that  he  had  an 
overall  picture  of  the  book  business.   That  has  always 
been  the  measurement  amongst  true  bookmen.   He  was  accused 
of  being  anti-Semitic,  but  I  have  personally  never  noticed 
it.   I  visited  the  shop  and  I  bought  things  from  him,  and 
I  saw  no  signs  of  it.   But  I  was  told  by  others  that  he 
really  was.   He  died  at  rather  an  early  age,  and  his  wife 
ran  the  business.   They  were  both  cat  connoisseurs.   They 
had  no  children,  so  their  living  was  the  bookstore  and  the 
cats.   That  was  the  total  interest  of  their  lives.   She 
carried  on  after  his  death  for  quite  a  few  years,  and  it 
wasn't  until  maybe  two  or  three  years  before  I  sold  out 


that  she  actually  gave  up  the  business.   Or  it  may  have 
been  the  year  after  I  sold  out,  maybe  1967  or  '68.   (You 
see,  without  being  in  the  business  now,  time  is  beginning 
to  telescope.   I  never  had  a  good  memory  for  dates.   I 
have  an  impressionistic  mind,  not  an  accurate  one.)   She 
used  to  visit  us  quite  often.   She  paid  me  a  great  deal 
of  respect.   She  always  sought  my  advice  on  the  things 
that  she  wanted  to  do.   She  always  felt  that  I  knew  every- 
thing, which,  of  course,  is  an  illusion  which  I  try  to 
dissuade  people  from.   [laughter]   But  the  fact  that  we 
were  more  or  less  successful,  and  having  been  in  all  the 
different  ends  of  the  book  business,  gave  people  the  idea 
that  we  were  knowledgeable  of  everything.   I  will  admit, 
we  had  a  lot  of  experiences  in  everything. 

There  was--just  for  the  record,  not  really  an  important 
bookshop  in  the  sense  that  they  were  a  major  kind  of  book- 
store--a  chap  by  the  name  of  Rabalette,  in  downtown  on  Spring 
Street.   He  handled  back  numbers  of  magazines  and  some 
popular  books  in  downtown  Spring  Street.   They  were  in 
business  for  quite  a  while,  but  they  were  out  of  the  swim 
of  the  regular  book  business.   They  dealt  with  an  entirely 
different  clientele  from  what  other  bookstores  dealt  with — 
the  Spring  Street  crowd  and  the  horse-racing  crowd  and  the 
gamblers  downtown,  also  the  skid  row  people. 

As  I  mentioned  before,  in  1946  Brentano's  opened  a 
store  on  Seventh  Street,  in  the  same  block  as  Robinson's, 


on  the  north  side  of  the  street.   And  they  tried  their 
darnedest  to  project  their  name  into  this  community.   But 
they  didn't  have  the  tools,  in  the  sense  that  they  never 
carried  the  kind  of  stock  that  California  bookstores  did. 
Now,  we've  talked  about  Pickwick,  the  tremendous  stocks 
that  we  carried.   But  there  were  other  stores  in  the  city 
that  carried  major  stocks  of  books--Martindale ' s  and 
Fowler  Brothers,  then;  in  Pasadena,  Vroman ' s .   I  think 
all  of  them  exceeded  in  variety  most  of  the  main  book- 
stores in  New  York.   And  of  course,  Brentano ' s  had  gone 
through  the  Depression,  and  they  weren't  the  same  people 
anymore.   So  they  tried  to  chain  out  into  California,  but 
they  were  totally  unsuccessful.   They  didn't  last  too  long. 
Well,  they  lasted  about  three,  four  years,  until  they  found 
that  they  just  couldn't  make  it  being  managed  from  New  York, 
competing  with  people  who  had  managers  on  the  spot. 
GARDNER:   Why  is  there  that  difference  between  the  western 
and  eastern  stores? 

EPSTEIN:   In  the  New  York  area  at  that  time,  I  think  the 
prime  store  was  Scribner's.   I  think  Brentano 's  had  gone 
down.   Still,  Scribner's  would  never  carry  the  variety  of 
stock  that,  say,  Pickwick  did.   We  carried  technical  books; 
we  carried  metaphysical  books.   Scribner's  wouldn't  touch 

GARDNER:   Why  not? 
EPSTEIN:   There's  no  accounting  for  it,  except  that  they 


created  an  image  of  themselves — or  over  the  years  an  image 
was  created  for  them.   Scribner's  was  a  very  literary  store, 
supposedly,  and  catered  to  the  very  highest  income  group, 
perhaps,  in  New  York  City.   They  tried  to  establish  the 
image.   The  image  was  created  for  them,  and  they  became 
exclusive  to  certain  types  of  books.   With  the  population 
they  had  in  New  York,  they  could  well  afford  to  do  that, 
whereas  I  think  in  our  community,  especially  the  Pickwick — 
and  here  I  go  again,  speaking  about  the  Pickwick  as  dis- 
tinct and  different  from  other  stores--we  would  handle 
everything  worthwhile  (and,  of  course,  a  lot  of  things 
that  weren't  worthwhile).   But  if  it  was  a  good  meta- 
physical book,  I  would  want  to  stock  a  good  metaphysical 
book.   And  we  built  up  a  tremendous  business  in  metaphysical 
books.   Then  when  we  decided  to  go  into  technical  books,  we 
decided  we'd  have  a  good  technical-book  department.   That, 
in  conjunction  with  everything  else  we  were  handling — 
paperbacks  and  every  other  kind  of  book  you  could  imagine, 
general  trade  books,  of  course.   But  we  didn't  want  to  be- 
come exclusive.   We  didn't  want  to  become  the  elegant  store. 
We  definitely  did  not.   It  came  up  one  time  that  the  council- 
man of  our  district  and  a  neighbor  of  ours — I  spoke  about 
Mr.  Lamport — wanted  to  create  the  image  of  Hollywood,  bring 
it  back  to  very  high  class.   I  explained  to  him  that  you 
can't  go  home  again.   It's  been  there;  you'll  never  bring 
it  back.   Besides,  times  are  different.   Those  stores  no 


longer  exist.   Those  fancy  dress  shops  that  we  had  on 
Hollywood  Boulevard,  which  later  moved — well,  you  couldn't 
possibly  bring  them  back  to  Hollywood  Boulevard.   To  try 
to  make  a  Fifth  Avenue  out  of  it  was  just  futile.   I  said, 
"I  don't  v;ant  to  be  on  Fifth  Avenue.   I  don't  want  a  Fifth 
Avenue  store.   I  didn't  start  out  with  that  idea  in  mind, 
and  I'm  convinced  that  my  idea's  still  the  best.   No  Fifth 
Avenue  store  does  as  well  as  we  do.   Nor  do  they  provide 
the  service  to  the  community  we  do." 

That  was  the  image  that  the  New  Yorkers  had  of  them- 
selves.  They  catered  to  certain  groups.   Brentano's,  of 
course,  at  one  time  were  very  proud  of  their  title,  "Book- 
sellers to  the  World,"  because  they  had  a  store  in  Paris. 
That  to  me  was  more  or  less  ridiculous.   But  it  made  an 
excellent  title.   They  didn't  have  the  kind  of  competition 
in  New  York  that  they  had  here  when  they  came  out  here.   As 
I  said,  the  store  that  came  out  here  was  no  longer  an  image 
of  the  famous  Brentano's  store  on  Fifth  Avenue  in  the  twenties, 
GARDNER:   Could  any  store  provide  that  sort  of  elegant  at- 
mosphere and  get  away  with  it?   There's  never  been  that 
kind  of  store  here,  has  there? 

EPSTEIN:   I  don't  know.   I  honestly  don't  know.   At  these 
times,  I  don't  think  they  could  afford  all  that  elegance, 
although,  coming  back  to  Brentano's  on  Wilshire  in  Beverly 
Hills,  they  are  trying  to  do  that.   I  have  no  way  of  knowing 
how  successful  they  are.   I  hear  one  kind  of  a  story  and 


then  I  hear  another.   I  have  no  figures  and  I  have  no 
certain  knowledge  that  they  are  succeeding,  or  whether 
they  are  not  succeeding.   The  parent  company  is  not  doing 
too  well--Macmillan  Company,  which  owns  Brentano ' s  and 
which  also  owns  Macmillan  Publishing  Company.   The  parent 
company's  not  doing  too  well.   I  have  reason  to  believe 
that  they're  having  a  difficult  time.   It's  an  extremely 
expensive  location.   The  stock  is  limited  to  a  few  good 
books  but  not  a  great  deal  of  variety  of  a  general  book- 
store.  Now  we'll  have  a  similar  type  of  competition. 
Doubleday  bought  out  Martindale--and  incidentally  they've 
already  taken  the  name  "Martindale ' s"  off  the  thing.   The 
Martindale  sign  is  down,  off  the  building,  and  they're 
tearing  everything  apart.   The  whole  image  of  Martindale ' s-- 
they're  getting  rid  of  that  as  quickly  as  possible. 
GARDNER:   Well,  we'll  come  back  to  that,  too.   But  have 
you  seen  Walter  Martindale  since  the  transfer? 
EPSTEIN:   I  haven't  seen  Walter  or  spoken  to  him.   I 
didn't  want  to  call  him  up  because  I  didn't  think  it  was 
proper  for  me  to  call  him  and  ask  him  certain  things.   But 
there's  a  good  deal  of  talk  in  the  trade  about  how  the  deal 
was  made.   If  the  talk  is  relatively  true,  I  think  he  made 
a  good  deal  for  himself.   Of  course,  Walter  is  a  very 
shrewd  chap.   He'll  hold  out  until  he  gets  what  he  wants. 

Then  several  smaller  book  operations  opened  in  the 
forties;  in  the  middle  forties  there  seemed  to  be  a  great 


deal  of  activity.   There  was  a  rare-book  store  open  in 
Beverly  Hills  on  Santa  Monica  Boulevard  called  The  Folio. 
They  lasted  for  several  years.   The  Paradise  Book  and 
Stationery  Shop  in  Huntington  Park  is  still  in  business, 
doing  a  fairly  decent  business  in  their  own  community. 
Spearman's  on  South  Flower  Street  opened  at  that  time. 
They  were  a  Catholic-book  store.   They  were  there  for 
several  years,  and  then  they  retired.   There  was  a  chap 
[Diaz-Garcia] ,  who  opened  the  Hispano-American  Bookshop, 
Spanish  books,  at  827  West  Sixth.   And  later  he  moved  to 
another  location,  I  think  on  Carondelet  Street,  near 
Seventh  and  Carondelet,  near  the  Otis  Art  Institute,  in 
that  area,  near  the  park.   The  World  News  Company  came 
into  the  picture  on  North  Cahuenga  Boulevard.   They 
handled  some  books.   Bill  Steinberg:   he  handles  news- 
papers along  the  walls,  similar  to  the  Universal  News 
on  Las  Palmas,  just  south  of  Hollywood  Boulevard,  which 
is  supposed  to  be  the  largest  outdoor  newsstand  in  the 
world.   Harry  Dale  moved  to  West  Sixth  Street  at  that 
time.   We  spoke  about  Harry  Dale.   Two  young  men  opened 
a  place  called  Books  in  Review  on  Wilshire  Boulevard. 

One  of  them  has  since  died,  but  the  remaining  partner 

still  operates  it.    It's  just  as  you  approach  Wilshire 

Boulevard  going  north  from  Virgil.   If  Virgil  ran  through. 

*  Harry  Hill  and  Jack  Brown.   Hill  died.   The  shop  just 
changed  hands  (June  1975). — [L.E.] 


you  could  go  into  their  shops.   They  do  a  living  sort  of 

business,  in  the  sense  that  they  make  a  decent  living. 

Now,  the  survivor,  I  suppose,  is  just  carrying  on  at  about 

the  same  rate. 

GARDNER:   ^^at  sort  of  books  do  they  handle? 

EPSTEIN:   A  general  stock  of  books,  greeting  cards,  and  a 

few  other  things.   Coming  into  1948,  a  chap  opened  up  an 

office  supplies,  sports  books,  and  magazines  store  on  North 

Western  Avenue.   [phone  rings;  tape  stopped]   Adco--they 

were  at  1120  North  Western — 1120  3/4,  to  be  exact.   They 

later  went  into  the  business  of  sporting  books,  books 

about  baseball,  prizefighting,  and  all  kinds  of  ephemera, 

historical  items  about  that;  he's  been  at  it  for  quite  a 

number  of  years  now  and  is  doing  very  nicely. 

GARDNER:   He  still  does  that? 

EPSTEIN:   He  still  does  that.   I'm  trying  to  think  of  the 

chap's  name.   I  did  know  his  name  but  I  can't  remember  it 

now.   [Goodwin  Goldfaden] 

GARDNER:   Where  is  he  located? 

EPSTEIN:   He's  on  Santa  Monica  Boulevard  now  somewhere.   I 

don't  know  the  exact  address.   I  can  look  it  up.   There 

again  is  an  example  of  a  person  becoming  a  specialist  and 

doing  well  or  medium;  or  like  Eugene  Bechtold,  whom  we 

spoke  about,  he  creates  a  little  niche  in  the  whole  spectrum, 

and  from  that  he  lives.   There  again,  to  digress  a  little 

bit,  people  ask  me,  "Are  there  opportunities  in  the  book 


business?"   Why,  you  can  start  in  a  hole  in  the  wall  or 
in  a  closet  in  the  bedroom,  if  that's  all  you  have,  and 
begin  to  specialize  and  study  your  subject.   If  a  person 
has  the  inquisitiveness  and  a  little  bit  of  gumption  to 
make  a  start  and  starve  for  a  few  months,  maybe  he  can 
gradually,  over  a  period  of  time,  by  constant  study  and 
constant  research  in  any  field  imaginable,  create  a  book 
business.   And  Eugene  Bechtold  is  a  living  example  of  that, 
I  don't  think  Eugene's  ever  made  much  more  than  a  living. 
There's  one  man  does  that,  and  Adco  does  it  on  sports, 
Burch  did  it  on  nature  books.   I  know  people  who  buy  noth- 
ing but  fiction  and  sell  to  libraries. 

A  chap  named  [n.;ucjlas]  De  Vorss,  who  had  been  on 
Grand  Avenue.  .  .  .   What's  the  name  of  that  hotel,  and 
they  also  had  an  auditorium,  near  Grand  and  Ninth? 
GARDNER:   Embassy? 

EPSTEIN:   Embassy  Auditorium,  yeah.   You've  got  a  re- 
markable memory f  because  that  was  popular  way  before  your 
time.   He  had  a  place  of  business  in  the  back  of  one  of 
the  little  sections  of  the  Embassy,  and  then  he  moved  to 
West  Ninth  Street.   He  built  up  a  business  of  publishing 
metaphysical  books.   A  lot  of  it  was  done  for  the  author 
at  the  author's  expense,  and  he  would  distribute  them.   If 
the  author  became  popular,  then  he  would  become  their  pub- 
lisher.  And  he  built  up  a  very  good  business  of  it.   He 
became  a  widower,  and  he  employed  in  his  office  several 


women.   And  the  husband  of  one  of  the  women  shot  him, 
killed  him.   There  might  have  been  an  affair,  but  it  was 
never  proven  that  there  actually  was.   Of  course,  those 
things  are  a  little  difficult  to  prove.   The  business  is 
still  being  run  now  by  a  nephew  of  his,  and  it's  moved  to 
Santa  Monica--De  Vorss  and  Company.   And  they  operate  a 
pretty  fair  business,  I  think,  a  very  profitable  business. 
But  that  was  the  unfortunate  ending  of  this  man. 

There  was  another,  more  happy,  incident  that  I  would 
like  to  mention  here  about  the  old  secondhand-book  business. 
When  he  first  moved  to  Grand  Avenue,  when  he  first  started 
his  business,  he  used  to  walk  by  my  place.   I  was  on  Eighth 
Street  at  that  time  between  Grand  and  Olive,  and  every  time 
he  had  to  go  downtown,  he  had  to  pass  by  the  store — if  he 
was  going  towards  the  May  Company  or  that  area--to  get  to 
Broadway  or  Hill.   One  day,  I  went  out  to  see  some  books. 
I  wanted  to  buy  the  books,  but  the  man  insisted  that  I  buy 
his  bookcases  also.   He  wouldn't  sell  me  the  books  without 
his  bookcases.   And  they  were  these  Globe-Wernicke  kind, 
which  I  understand  now  have  become  collectors'  items — the 
ones  that  had  a  glass  door  that  pulled  up?   The  little  glass 
door  pulled  up  and  slid  to  the  back.   Well,  I  was  in  an 
antique  shop  the  other  day  looking  for  some  books,  and  I 
saw  those.   And  I  made  the  remark  that  I  at  one  time  had 
about  200  little  sections  of  those  and  I  didn't  know  what 
to  do  with  them,  so  I  sold  them  for  a  dollar  apiece.   He 


said,  "Oh,  God,  we're  getting.  ..."   He  had  a  rack  of 
five  of  them  plus  the  top  and  the  bottom,  and  he  was  ask- 
ing $100  for  it.   He  explained  to  me  that  they  had  become 
very  rare  collectors'  items.   Well,  to  come  back  to  Mr. 
De  Vorss  and  the  story  about  the  man  who  insisted  on  me 
buying  the  bookcases,  well,  he  had  100  or  125  sections  of 
these  bookcases.   And  I  had  no  room  for  them.   He  had  a 
very  good  library  of  books,  and  I  just  had  to  buy  those 
bookcases.   I  think  I  paid  him  about  twenty-five,  fifty 
cents  a  section — which  was  cheap  enough,  I  suppose,  even 
for  those  days.   But  I  had  no  room,  and  no  way  of  getting 
them  into  the  shop.   Anyway,  I  had  to  buy  them;  I  bought 
them;  I  got  a  truck  to  bring  them  in;  and  there  they  were 
on  the  sidewalk  and  me  wondering  how  in  the  world  I  was 
going  to  get  them  into  the  store,  where  I  was  going  to  put 
them.   And  De  Vorss  walked  by,  and  we  said  hello.   He  said, 
"Say,  those  are  nice  bookcases."   I  said,  "Yes,  they're 
very  nice."   He  said,  "How  much  do  you  want  for  them?" 
I  said,  "Can  you  use  them  all?"   He  said,  "Yes,  I  can  use 
them  all" — because  he  had  just  started  there  and  so  forth. 
They  looked  very  nice.   I  said,  "Well,  give  me  a  dollar  and 
a  half  apiece  for  them."   He  said,  "Okay."   So  out  of  a 
disaster  I  made  a  handsome  profit.   One  never  knows.   At 
the  time  I  was  so  happy  to  get  rid  of  them,  if  he  had  of- 
fered me  seventy-five  cents  apiece,  I'm  sure  I  would  have 
taken  it.   But  that  poor  man  came  to  an  linfortunate  end. 


The  Hollywood  Bookstore  at  that  time  was  sold  by  the 
creditors.   They  had  been  there,  the  oldest  bookstore  in 
Hollywood.   They  were  a  little  bit  diagonal  to  the  west, 
across  the  street  from  us,  about  five  doors  from  where 
Miller's  is  now.   The  building  has  since  been  torn  down 
for  an  auto  park.   Allan  Weatherby  owned  it.   I  may  have 
mentioned  Allan  before.   He  was  a  Harvard  graduate,  ex- 
tremely knowledgeable  in  literature,  but  totally  irrespon- 
sible.  He  had  no  idea  where  money  came  from.   If  he  needed 
money,  he  would  just  go  to  the  register  and  take  whatever 
was  there  for  whatever  purpose--he  wanted  to  go  out  and 
have  a  fine  dinner  or  take  a  number  of  people  drinking.   At 
that  time  he  had  psychological  problems  of  some  kind  or 
another.   His  wife  was  a  very  fine  woman,  and  she  suffered 
along  with  him.   But  they  lost  their  business.   A  number  of 
years  later,  he  went  back  East,  and  we  heard  that  he 
straightened  himself  out  and  now  is  a  professor  at  some 
university  on  the  East  Coast  and  living  very  happily,  which 
I'm  very  happy  to  hear. 

Sammy  Reiser  was  listed;  he  opened  a  store  at  5638 
Hollywood  Boulevard.   That  was  his  final  store,  and  while 
he  was  still  proprietor  of  that,  he,  as  I  mentioned  before, 
committed  suicide.   Larry  Edmunds  was  operating  at  the  old 
Reiser  store.   I  think  he  had  Ida  Needham  and  Milton  Luboviski 
working  for  him  at  the  time.   They  were  still  on  Cahuenga,  i 
think . 


GARDNER:   They  specialized  in  film,  didn't  they? 
EPSTEIN:   At  that  time,  no.   At  that  time,  they  had 
a  general  used-book  store.   The  Satyr  Bookshop  had  moved 
from  Vine  Street  to  Hollywood  Boulevard  just  east  of  Vine. 
They  were  on  Vine  Street  next  to  the  Brown  Derby.   But  the 
location  became  too  expensive  for  them,  and  the  Derby 
wanted  it  back,  so  they  had  to  move.   At  that  time  I  think 
Mac  Gordon,  the  originator,  had  already  died. 

I  think  I  mentioned  Solomon's  before.   The  Jewish  book- 
store moved  to  Fairfax  from  Boyle  Heights.   That's  an  event, 
There  was  a  little  bookstore  opened  up  called  the  Studio 
Bookstore  at  1716  North  Wilcox.   They  had  both  new  and  old 
books.   We're  coming  now  to  '49. 

If  you  recollect,  I  spoke  of  a  man  by  the  name  of 
Dave  Kohn,  who  ran  the  Curio  Bookshop — and  the  place  was 
just  stuffed  with  books,  and  neither  he  nor  anyone  else 
could  find  anything — and  who  had  asked  me  how  to  improve 
his  business.   And  I  told  him  if  he  kept  one  and  threw  out 
two,  in  the  proportion,  he  might  be  able  to  create  a  book- 
shop again,  as  it  was  purely  a  storage  house.   Well,  he 
finally  sold  out  to  some  people  who  renamed  it  The  Book 
Center.   It  was  later  sold  out  to  somebody  else  and  moved 
to  South  Broadway,  and  it  just  petered  out. 

There  was  one  chap  I'd  like  to  mention.  He  did  not 
have  a  bookstore.  But  he  sold  encyclopedias,  which  is  a 
world  apart  from  bookstores,  usually  a  very  hard  sell  from 


door  to  door.   The  chap  I  want  to  mention,  his  name  was 
C.U.  Branch.   (Now,  what  the  initials  stand  for,  I  don't 
know.   I  think  the  first  name  might  have  been  Clarence.) 
But  anyway,  he  had  his  offices  at  416  West  Eighth  Street, 
[phone  rings;  tape  stopped]   C.U.  Branch  was  a  typical 
example  of  a  kind  of  bookselling  that  doesn't  exist  any- 
more, I  don't  think.   They  still  have  door-to-door  sales- 
men who  sell  encyclopedias — not  from  door  to  door,  neces- 
sarily, but  to  wealthy  people,  fine  sets  of  books.   In 
those  days,  people  were  proud  of  having  a  library,  even 
those  who  were  hardly  literate.   But  if  they  had  the  money, 
they  of  course  had  to  have  a  library  full  of  books;  and 
they'd  buy  these  finely  bound  sets,  and  put  them  on  the 
shelves,  and  enjoy  them  whichever  way  they  could.   Some- 
times they  would  read  one.   But  a  finely  bound  book  is  a 
difficult  book  to  read  in  the  first  place.   I  know  people 
who  have  finely  bound  sets  of  an  author,  but  if  they  want 
to  read  the  author,  they  go  out  and  buy  a  copy  of  that 
book  because  they're  hard  to  handle. 
GARDNER:   You  don't  want  to  get  them  dirty. 

EPSTEIN:   Right,  because  they  get  soiled  very  easily.   They're 
highly  polished,  as  a  rule.   At  any  rate,  he  would  buy  books 
from  me.   If  we  would  get  fine  sets,  he  would  buy  them  from 


We  had  an  arrangement:   he  wouldn't  buy  them  outright. 
He  would  take  a  sample  of  a  set  of  books  that  I  had,  or 


whatever  number  of  sets  he  wanted  to  take  out,  and  he 
would  try  to  sell  them.   And  if  he  sold  them,  he  would 
buy  them  from  me.   If  not,  he  brought  me  back  the  book — 
which  was  a  nice  arrangement,  once  you  got  to  know  that 
he  was  trustworthy.   Occasionally  we  had  to  wait  for  our 
money  because  the  person  that  he  sold  them  to  didn't  give 
him  a  check  on  the  spot,  or  whatever.   But  on  the  whole, 
we  got  along  very  well  with  a  number  of  people  who  did 
that  sort  of  thing.   At  that  time,  there  was  C.C.  Leonard 
and  Grady  and  one  or  two  others  who  did  that  type  of 

However,  the  Depression  came  along,  and  the  market 
for  that  type  of  book  business  dropped.   People  weren't 
buying  those  things,  sets  for  $4-  or  $5-  or  $600.   All 
these  chaps  were  having  a  very  rough  time.   So  they  started 
selling  to  schools  and  libraries.   Schools  had  a  regular 
budget,  no  matter  how  small,  and  they  were  such  tough 
salesmen.   Then  they  switched  to  things  like  the  World 
Book  sets,  and  reference  sets,  encyclopedias,  or  sets  of 
standard  authors  not  in  fine  bindings--cloth  bindings.   So 
they  went  ahead  and  created  a  modest  living  out  of  that. 
And  a  modest  living  was  what  most  people  had  in  those  days. 
Some  of  them  didn't  quite  succeed,  and  they  had  to  do  some- 
thing else. 

Then  Branch  later  became  a  sales  manager  for  an  en- 
cyclopedia company.   Not  a  major  encyclopedia — it  was,  I 


think,  the  Collier,  which  was  the  third-rate  encyclopedia. 
And  all  over  the  years  we  kept  in  contact.   VThenever  he'd 
find  a  batch  of  good  used  books  somewhere,  he  would  call 
me  and  tell  me  about  them.   We  became  quite  close  friends. 
But  he  wound  up,  he  got  into  a  deal  of  some  kind  operating 
a  school  for  GIs .   After  WV  II,  a  tremendous  number  of 
GIs  were  either  going  to  college  or  trade  schools.   And 
quite  a  few  trade  schools  sprung  up  to  teach  these  boys 
a  craft — like  watchmaking  or  the  grinding  of  lenses  or 
polishing  stone.   Any  kind  of  a  school  they  could  think  of, 
they  started,  and  these  chaps  would  come  in  with  their  GI 
Bill  money  and  spend  it  with  them.   They  became  very  success- 
ful at  it  until  the  thing  petered  out.   But  by  that  time, 
he  had  it  made. 

He  was  a  very  shrewd  guy.   A  nice  person.   Hard  sell — 
I  wouldn't  want  him  to  sell  me.   But  with  all  that,  that 
was  his  business;  that  was  his  way  of  doing  business.   Take 
that  coat  off,  and  he  was  a  very  fine  person.   We  got  along 
very  well  together  for,  oh,  twenty-five,  thirty  years.   But 
I  mention  that  simply  because  the  type  of  a  business — again, 
a  person  begins  to  specialize  in  something.   And  you  know, 
I  don't  know  of  any  salesmen  who  are  going  around  to  schools 
and  colleges  the  same  way  as  they  did.   And  I'll  bet  you 
that  if  a  person  started  out  today  and  did  that  same  thing, 
he  could  probably  do  very  well  at  it,  because  the  libraries 
are  more  prosperous  now  than  they  were  then — less  prosperous 


than  they  were  five  years  ago,  but  they  still  have  quite 
sizable  budgets  compared  to  the  budgets  of  those  days. 

Brentano's  on  Seventh  Street  combined  with  Gateway 
of  Music.   You  wouldn't  remember  that.   A  chap  started 
an  idea  of  selling  records  the  way  books  are  sold.   And 
he  came  into  the  nice  Brentano's  store  on  West  Seventh 
Street,  and  they  started  this  thing.   They  also  did  that 
at  the  Beverly  Hills  address.   But  the  partnership  didn't 
last  long,  and  Brentano's  went  out.   Gateway  stayed,  but 
Gateway  didn't  last  too  long  either.   It  was  an  idea  that 
just  didn't  take  hold. 

There  was  a  chap  who  opened  the  Cambridge  Bookshop, 
at  5600  Hollywood  Boulevard,  which  again  didn't  last  long. 

Peggy  Christian  opened  at  1071  North  Western,  called 
Christian's  Bookstore.   I  think  she  was  married  at  the 
time,  but  she  ran  the  store  herself.   I  walked  in  there 
one  day — I  didn't  know  her — and  I  saw  this  young  woman, 
very  attractive,  in  this  shop  that  had  a  lot  of  dark 
corners  in  it;  and  I  said  to  myself,  "Something  might 
happen  here."   I  looked  around;  I  introduced  myself.   She 
had  heard  of  me,  but  she  didn't  know  me.   We  talked.   And 
I  said  to  her,  "Aren't  you  afraid  to  stay  here?"   "Well," 
she  said,  "my  husband  comes  and  stays  with  me  in  the  later 
hours."   But  apparently  the  marriage  broke  up.   She  ran  it 
herself.   Then  she  later  moved  to  Santa  Monica  Boulevard, 
around  the  corner;  and  finally,  as  you  know,  she's  now  on 


La  Cienega. 

M.  Harelick  opened  a  Jewish-book  store  at  228  West 
Fourth  Street.   But  he  did  not  go  into  the  same  kind  of 
Jewish-book  store  as  Solomon's.   A  much  different  plane 
in  the  sense  that  all  his  books  were  in  English.   He  had 
a  broader  knowledge  of  Jewish  books,  of  Jewish  content, 
rather  than  strictly  as  Solomon's  were  textbooks  for  Jewish 
schools  and  so  forth--although  Harelick  later  carried  the 
textbook  type  of  thing.   It  was  mostly  for  the  Reform  and 
Conservatives,  which  use  a  lot  of  English,  more  English 
and  less  Hebrew.   Solomon  was  the  expert  on  the  Hebrew. 
Harelick  became  quite  expert,  and  quite  a  fine  bookman  for 
Jewish  religious  books.   And  he  was  a  very  fine  person. 
He  later  combined  with  a  man  by  the  name  of  Jack  Roth,  and 
it's  called  Harelick  and  Roth.   They're  on  La  Cienega  op- 
posite Temple  Beth  Am,  below  Olympic.   Mr.  Harelick  has 
since  died,  and  Roth  is  operating  the  business  using  the 
same  name  and  doing  an  excellent  job. 

I  think  that  people  running  specialized  bookshops  in 
some  ways  do  a  tremendous  service  to  the  community.   Whereas 
Mr.  Harelick  one  time  called  me  and  said  that  his  problem 
was  that  he  sold  to  religious  groups  and  rabbis  and  teachers, 
and  every  one  of  them  wanted  a  discount.   And  he  was  having 
a  hard  time  making  ends  meet.   I  told  him  that  as  long  as 
he  gives  a  discount,  he  was  going  to  starve  and  perhaps 
starve  to  death,  in  the  sense  that  he  wouldn't  be  able  to 


carry  on  his  business;  that  he  must  be  adamant  and  explain 
to  them  that  there  isn't  that  much  Jev/ish-book  business  in 
the  city,  and  he  is  providing  them  with  a  service,  and  he 
cannot  afford  to  give  them  a  discount.   And  stick  to  that 
policy.   And  by  God,  he  did  that--with  rare  exceptions, 
where  they  bought  a  great  big  lot  of  books — and  his  busi- 
ness improved  in  the  sense  that  he  was  making  a  profit. 
And  I  said,  "You've  got  to  teach  the  people  to  respect 
you,  because  you  are  providing  them  a  service  that  they 
can't  get  anywhere  else  in  the  city — or  hardly  anywhere 
in  the  country  unless  they  want  to  deal  by  mail  with  a 
few  stores  in  New  York,  which  is  very  inconvenient  for 
them  and  where  they  will  get  no  discount.   They'll  have 
to  pay  postage.   And  you  explain  that  to  them  and  stick 
to  it."   And  I  said,  "You  might  lost  some  customers,  but 
you  will  gain  profit  on  the  business  you  do  to  much  more 
than  offset  the  losses  you  take.   And  those  same  customers 
will  find  they  can't  get  the  book  elsewhere,  and  they  will 
come  to  you,  and  they  will  pay  your  price."   He  remembered 
that,  and  he  thanked  me  for  the  advice  many  times. 

We  had  to  learn  the  same  thing  when  we  moved  into 
Hollywood  and  we  started  selling  new  books.   See,  during 
the  Depression  we  got  in  the  habit  of  giving  discounts. 
Well,  you  had  to.   I  mean,  people  just  came  in,  and  maybe 
that's  all  they  had.   If  you  wanted  a  dollar  and  a  half, 
and  they  offered  you  a  dollar  and  a  quarter  or  a  dollar, 


you  compromised  to  a  dollar  and  a  quarter.   Well,  he  was 
short  of  money;  I  v;as  short  of  business.   We  did  it.   But 
when  we  came  into  Hollywood,  we  decided  we  just  couldn't 
do  it  anymore,  because  the  more  people  you  had  working, 
the  bigger  the  business  got,  everyone  had  to  trade  with 
the  boss  because  he  was  the  only  one  who  could  give  a 
discount.   So  the  first  thing  we  knew,  Stackhouse  or  I 
were  doing  all  the  selling,  and  we  didn't  have  any  time 
for  anything  else.   So  we  decided  we  would  mark  up  books 
reasonably,  as  reasonably  as  we  could,  give  absolutely  no 
discounts.   We  never  gave  a  discount  on  a  new  book,  except 
to  other  dealers  and  occasionally  to  a  library  when  they 
bought  new  books.   Well,  the  people  who  had  been  accustomed 
to  getting  a  discount  or  bargaining  with  us,  we  had  to 
teach  them  that  this  is  a  totally  different  business  we're 
in  now;  we  just  couldn't  do  it,  and  we  wouldn't  do  it.   And 
I  think  that  was  one  of  the  great  reasons  that  Pickwick 
stayed  on  an  even  keel  all  the  years.   Oh,  we  had  a  time 
with  people.   "What,  Louis?   I  don't  get  a  discount?"   You 
know,  they  had  been  getting  a  discount  or  bargaining.   "No," 
I  said,  "we're  running  a  different  kind  of  a  store  now.   I 
can't  afford  to  give  you  a  discount."   Because  if  I  gave 
them  a  10  percent  discount,  that  was  all  the  profit  that  I 
would  make  on  the  transaction. 

GARDNER:   Let  me  just  ask  one  quick  question.   Did  Harelick 
handle  all  new  books? 


EPSTEIN:   He  had  a  few  old  books,  as  they  showed  up.   No, 
primarily  new. 


JULY  15,  1974 

EPSTEIN:   To  back  up  a  little  bit  to  '49,  I  notice  that 
I  didn't  mention  Cambridge  Bookshop,  which  opened  on 
5600  Hollywood  Boulevard.   That's  about  a  block  west  of 
Western.   The  chap  who  started  that,  his  name  was  [Charles] 
Salzman.   He's  still  in  business.   I  notice  the  following 
year  he  moved  again.   In  the  following  year  he  moved  some- 
where else.   I  don't  have  the  exact  address.   But  he's 
still  in  business,  and  he's  on  Melrose  Avenue,  not  far 
from  La  Cienega  [Canterbury  Book  Shop,  8344  Melrose] .   He 
runs  a  small  shop,  mostly  library  business,  specializing 
in  English  literature. 

The  name  of  M.J.  Royer  comes  up.   In  194  9  he  opened 
a  bookshop  at  465  North  Robertson.   Later  he  went  into 
art  books  in  a  big  way,  selling  to  libraries  almost  ex- 
clusively, and  built  up  a  very  handsome  business.   The 
interesting  thing  about  Mel  Royer — to  me,  that  is--is 
that  he  was  one  of  my  very  earliest  customers  when  I 
opened  on  Sixth  Street.   At  that  time  he  was  an  account- 
ant.  I  forget  the  name  of  the  firm.   They  used  to  get 
all  the  cans  and  metals  from  the  city  garbage  collection 
department.   In  those  days,  you  had  to  separate  the  metals 
from  all  the  other  waste.   It  was  a  very  lucrative  busi- 
ness for  the  company,  and  they  fought  the  combination  of 


metals  and  all  other  waste  products  that  they  collected 
from  the  residences.   They  fought  the  idea  for  a  good 
many  years,  but  they  finally  lost.   Now,  of  course,  every- 
thing is  collected  together.   Curiously,  now  there's  an 
agitation,  because  metals  are  becoming  scarce  and  whatnot, 
to  recycle  all  these  things,  go  back  to  the  old  system  of 
having  two  containers,  one  for  paper  waste  and  other  gar- 
bage and  whatnot,  and  another  one  for  metals — which  I  think 
makes  sense,  except  that,  of  course,  it  would  cost  the  city 
so  much  money  to  do  that.   They'd  probably  have  to  have  two 
separate  pickups.   How  they'll  work  it  out,  I  don't  know. 

Mel  was  considered  a  pretty  good  collector  at  the 
time  that  I  started.   It  was  curious  to  find  him  going  into 
the  business  many  years  later,  almost  twenty  years  later 
from  the  time  I  started  till  the  time  he  went  into  busi- 
ness.  He  is  a  very  nice  person,  and  he  made  quite  a  nice 
success  of  it.   But  he  recently  sold  out  his  entire  stock, 
which  was  expensive  and  valuable  stock,  to  a  group  of 
Japanese  who  packed  it  all  up  and  shipped  it  to  Japan. 
And  what  they'll  do  with  it,  I  wouldn't  know — it'll  prob- 
ably go  into  some  libraries  there.   But  the  Japanese  are 
beginning  to  buy,  as  you  know,  all  art  forms  of  any  kind. 
I  guess  they  needed  some  art  books. 
GARDNER:   What  kind  of  a  guy  was  Mel  Royer? 
EPSTEIN:   In  what  sense  do  you  mean? 
GARDNER:   Oh,  just  generally. 


EPSTEIN:   Oh,  a  very  nice  person,  very  soft-spoken,  a 
straight  thinker,  a  square  businessman.   When  you  dealt 
with  Mel,  you  were  on  solid  ground.   What  he  said,  well, 
you  could  take  as  gospel.   You  didn't  have  to  have  signed 
contracts  with  him.   He  established  a  nice  reputation 
amongst  the  libraries.   I'm  seventy-two,  you  know,  and  I 
always  considered  him  a  good  bit  older  than  I.   I  imagine 
he  must  have  been  all  of  five  or  six  or  seven  years  older 
than  I,  so  he ' s  probably  either  approaching  eighty  or  in 
his  eighties.   But  he  became  a  little  bit  ill,  and  then 
he  had  a  fall  which  laid  him  up  for  a  number  of  months, 
and  since  that  he's  been  doing  very  little.   Finally, 
when  an  opportunity  came,  he  sold  his  business.   He'd 
been  trying  to  sell  his  business;  and  he  almost  succeeded 
at  another  time,  but  the  deal  didn't  go  through.   The  peo- 
ple couldn't  raise  the  money.   But  the  Japanese  came  along 
with  whatever  he  wanted,  and  they  got  the  whole  works. 
Cleaned  the  whole  thing  up;  didn't  bother  sorting,  just 
packed  it.   Another  curious  thing  about  it  is  that  his 
principal  assistant  for  so  many  years  was  a  Japanese  girl, 
[Nakuno  Serisawa] .   I  don't  know  if  that  contributed  to 
the  sale  or  not. 

The  Spanish  Bookstore  moved  to  629--oh,  no,  they  were 
at  629  West  Sixth.   They  later  moved.   The  Technical  Book- 
shop opened  at  726  South  Spring  Street.   I  think  they'd 
been  open  before  that,  but  they  moved  to  72  6  South  Spring. 


They  were  there  for  a  number  of  years,  then  they  moved 
down  to  Third  and  Spring.   Now  they've  closed  that  re- 
cently, and  they're  somewhere  on  VJestwood  Boulevard,  I 
believe.   They  now  sell,  I  think,  medical  books,  too. 
There  was  a  bookstore  that  opened  at  628  West  Sixth,  which 
was  across  the  street  from  my  old  location,  625,  called 
the  AAA  Bookstore--whatever  that  meant. 

GARDNER:   That  meant  they  wanted  the  first  listing  in  the 
phone  book. 

EPSTEIN:   That's  exactly  it.   But  apparently  that  didn't 
help  them  too  much,  because  they  didn't  stay  in  business 
too  long.   In  194  9,  I  noticed  a  new  name  in  the  phone  book, 
John  Q.  Burch.   Well,  it  wasn't  new,  but  he'd  moved  to 
1584  West  Vernon.   And  I  think  I  spoke  to  you  about  John 
Burch  before  as  having  become  a  specialist  in  books  on 
conchology.   He  developed  a  worldwide  business  and  did 
extremely  well  with  it.   He's  a  retired  railroad  man  who 
went  into  the  book  business.   There,  again,  to  prove  a 
principle,  if  you  have  an  interest,  you  can  usually  build 
a  business  around  it. 

GARDNER:   That  sounds  like  a  funny  address  for  a  bookshop. 
EPSTEIN:   VJell,  at  the  time  it  was  a  much  better  neighbor- 
hood than  it  is  now.   I'm  talking  about  1949. 
GARDNER:   I  see.   Did  he  remain  there?   Did  he  move? 
EPSTEIN:   He  remained  there  for  quite  a  few  years  and  then 
moved  his  business  to  his  home,  which  was  in  the  area  to 


the  west  of  that,  the  Leimert  Park  area. 

There's  a  peculiar  lady,  Miss  F.  Gertzweig,  who  had 
a  shop  at  6093  Sunset  Boulevard.   She  sold  cards  and 
occasionally  even  dresses  and  one  thing  or  another.   But 
she  had  a  circulating  library  and  took  orders  for  books 
for  people.   At  the  time  of  '49,  she  was  located  not  too 
far  from — that  studio  on  Gower--Columbia.   She  got  a  little 
bit  of  overflow  of  business.   She  was  a  very  loud,  demanding 
person,  but  she  was  a  character.   She  was  an  old  maiden  lady 
who  made  her  living  in  her  own  way.   But  she  used  to  torment 
us  no  end.   She  would  expect  us  to  mail  books  to  her,  mail 
them  to  her  customers  and  all  that,  demanding  discounts 
larger  than  she  was  entitled  to.   We  used  to  give  dealers 
10  percent  discount  and  she  always  complained,  "Well,  how 
can  I  make  a  living  on  10  percent?"   [laughter]   "Well, 
it's  either  you  making  a  living  or  me  making  a  living." 
"Well,  you're  rich,  you've  got  this  great  big  store." 
Ilaughter]   But  she  was  a  harmless  person. 

Coming  into  1950,  Acres  of  Books — I  think  they  moved 
at  that  time,  sometime  in  1950,  from  140  Pacific  Avenue, 
Long  Beach,  to  Atlantic  Boulevard.   (They  started  in  Long 
Beach  long  before  1950.)   Acres  of  Books  is  sort  of  a 
legendary  place.   It  was  opened  by  Bertrand  Smith.   Bertrand 
Smith  had  a  place  called  Acres  of  Books  in  Cincinnati,  Ohio. 
A  more  or  less  successful  bookseller,  he  was  British  by 
origin.   He  got  a  tremendous  amount  of  space,  and  he  would 


buy  anything  and  everything  and  store  it  away  on  the 
shelves  where  you  had  to  really  dig  out  things.   And 
they  were  all  reasonably  priced.   And  eventually,  if 
you  held  them  long  enough,  some  of  those  things  that 
were  extremely  common  and  no  account  became  a  little  bit 
more  desirable,  in  the  sense  that  somebody  might  always 
be  looking  for  something  of  that  nature.   He  built  a  big 
business  on  that  basis.   He  later  moved  to  a  very,  very 
large  store  on  Atlantic  Boulevard  in  Long  Beach.   If  you've 
never  been  there,  it's  really  a  sight.   It's  a  lot  of  little 
cubbyholes.   You  really  have  to  seek  and  find  whatever  you 
think  might  be  necessary.   I've  been  there  a  couple  of 
times,  but  it  just  is  impossible  for  me  to  look  through. 

Bertrand  was  a  very  nice  person--very  affable,  nice 
to  talk  to.   He  really  had  a  genuine  love  for  books,  any 
kind  of  book.   It's  almost  like  [John  W. ]  Todd  [Jr.]  of 
Shorey's  in  Seattle.   A  book  had  to  be  preserved,  no  matter 
what,  and  it  was  a  sacrilege  to  destroy  a  book,  or  not  to 
treat  it  with  great  respect — which  I  agree  with.   Every 
book  is  entitled  to  respect.   But  if  everybody  held  onto 
every  book  that  was  ever  published,  there  wouldn't  be 
enough  room  in  the  world  to  keep  all  the  books.   And  there 
wouldn't  be  any  scarce  books  because  all  the  editions  would 
be  fully  available  and  there  would  be  no  scarcity. 

But  he  passed  on,  oh,  about  ten  years  ago,  and  his  two 
sons  are  running  the  business  along  the  same  lines  that  the 


father  had,  and  they're  doing  quite  well. 

Dale's  Bookazine  had  moved  to — Harry  Dale  had  moved 
to  749  South  Spring.   He's  the  chap  I  told  you  about  that 
bought  out  Holmes  when  the  old  man  had  to  close  up  shop. 

Jack  Blum  opened  the  Cherokee  Bookshop,  at  1646 
Cherokee.   They're  now  on  Hollywood  Boulevard,  a  block 
west  of  Musso's.   His  sons  [Gene  and  Burt]  are  now  taking 
over  the  business.   They  do  a  fairly  good  business.   Gene 
now  does  most  of  the  running  of  the  store.   They  specialize 
in  film  things.   One  of  the  sons  [Burt]  has  gone  into  comic 
books.   Another  one  has  gone  into  fantasy  books,  science 
fiction.   And  each  one  knows  his  area  pretty  well.   There 
is  also  Jack's  brother,  Harry,  who  has  been  there  a  long 
time.   Then  they  have  another  chap  who  specializes  in 
World  War  I  and  II  books.   He  sort  of  parceled  out  spe- 
cialties into  his  store.   In  addition  to  that,  he  has  a 
very  nice  stock  of  sets,  which  are  becoming  very  scarce. 
Of  course,  they're  now  very  high  priced.   But  it's  not  the 
kind  of  a  store  that  I  would  appreciate  myself.   Neverthe- 
less, it's  a  good  store. 
GARDNER:   VJhat  do  you  mean  by  that? 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  it's  not  arranged  like  I  would  arrange  it. 
It's  hard  to  browse  in  it.   They  have  three  levels.   One  is 
a  half-basement,  and  the  third  level  is  sort  of  a  half- 
mezzanine.   It's  a  very  difficult  store  to  browse  in.   As 
a  matter  of  fact,  they  don't  encourage  you  too  much  to  browse. 


In  spite  of  what  I  say--that  it  isn't  a  kind  of  a  store 
I  would  run--nevertheless  it's  still  a  good  bookstore. 
Jack  is  a  very  nice  person.   He's  on  the  verge  of  re- 
tiring now.   He's  just  hanging  on  until  his  sons  get  a 
little  bit  better  feel  of  it.   They're  probably  waiting 
till  he  retires.   [laughter]   That's  the  usual  battle  be- 
tween the  ages. 

Harry  Levinson  appears  on  the  scene  around  1950.   He 
has  an  address  at  9527  Brighton  Way,  but  I  think  he  did 
business  from  his  home  for  quite  a  while.   He  came  in  from 
New  York,  a  very  knowledgeable  guy  with  an  extremely  fine 
collection  of  reference  books  pertaining  to  books--very 
scarce  bibliographies.   He's  a  very,  very  able  bookman. 
I  never  did  much  business  with  Harry  because  by  that  time 
my  biggest  interest  was  in  the  new-book  business.   He  used 
to  come  in  and  browse  through  our  rare  books  and  buy  some 
things  from  us  from  time  to  time.   He  established  himself 
as  a  major  bookseller,  a  national  bookseller  in  rare  books. 
He  used  to  make  his  regular  buying  trips  to  Europe,  all 
over  Europe,  and  he's  considered  one  of  the  most  know- 
ledgeable booksellers — perhaps,  I  would  say,  next  to  Jake. 
But  he's  a  different  type  of  character  from  Jake — very  close- 
mouthed.   He  did  participate  in  the  antiquarian  bookseller's 
group.   He  just  recently  gave  up  that  location  on  Brighton. 
Now  he's  doing  business  from  a  very  big  home  he  bought  in 
Beverly  Hills.   He  built  a  special  section  of  his  home  for 


the  books.   Unfortunately,  within  a  year  or  two  after 
they  moved  into  this  very  big  home,  his  wife  was  killed 

in  an  automobile  accident.   And  they  had  no  children.   I 

suspect  that  Harry's  a  fairly  lonely  person.    He  was  never 

a  person  to  make  friends,  as  Jake  has  and  some  of  the 
others.   He  always  stayed  pretty  much  in  the  background — 
which  is  no  criticism  of  him,  by  any  means.   Nevertheless, 
that's  the  type  of  personality  he  had.   But  he  was  an  ex- 
tremely able  bookman,  and  in  that  context  he  left  his  mark 
on  the  book  business. 

I  find  a  note  here  on  Jack  E.  Reynolds.   At  that  time 
he  was  on  Santa  Monica  Boulevard,  at  4561.   Jack  is  still 
in  business,  a  specialist  in  Western  Americana.   He's  some- 
where, I  think,  in  the  West  Valley — 16031  Sherman  Way,  Van 
Nuys.   I've  never  been  to  his  West  Valley  store.   He's 
been  there  for  many,  many  years.   He  still  follows  his 
specialty — very  knowledgeable.   He  participates  in  various 
historical  societies.   He's  written  little  squibs  about  this, 
that,  and  the  other.   He's  active  in  the  Westerners,  Los 
Angeles  Corral. 

The  Westerners  have  branches  all  over  the  United  States; 
and  even  in  London  and  Paris,  they  have  corrals  there.   They 
organize  a  group  of  people  whose  interest  is  Western-book 
cpllecting — books  about  the  West,  Indians,  etc.,  etc. 

*   He  has  since  remarried. -- [L. E. ] 


Somebody  got  the  idea  of  having  these  corrals,  and  there's 
been  a  very  active  one  in  Los  Angeles  for  many  years.   The 
Los  Angeles  one  publishes  a  yearbook,  of  which  I  have  most 
copies;  and  I'm  a  member  of  it.   I  think  eight  times  a 
year  they  issue  a  little  bulletin,  and  with  the  bulletin 
usually  comes  a  treatment  of  some  special  subject  by  some- 
body in  the  corral  whose  specialty  it  is.   Some  of  them 
are  very  fine  pieces  of  research. 
GARDNER:   It's  a  historical  society,  really. 
EPSTEIN:   Yes.   They  don't  call  themselves  that,  but  in 
effect  that's  what  it  is — but  slightly  on  a  different  plane. 
It's  less  public  than,  say,  the  Southern  California  Historical 
Society.   Jack  is  still  active  in  the  business,  and  he  has  a 
good  reputation. 

We'll  go  on  to  19  51.   I  checked  over  a  few  of  the  mem- 
berships of  the  antiquarian  group  members,  and  I  find  the 
name  of  Ernest  E.  Gottlieb.   Gottlieb  was  a  specialist  in 
music.   He  died  rather  young,  unfortunately. 

Max  Hunley  appears  on  Santa  Monica  Boulevard  in  Beverly 
Hills.   He  had  previously  been  in  a  little  arcade  just  south 
of  Santa  Monica  Boulevard  on  Beverly  Drive  in  Beverly  Hills. 
I  don't  know  if  you're  familiar  with  that.   There's  a  small 
arcade;  it's  still  there.   He  had  a  small  store  like  that 
in  these  arcades,  and  later  he  moved  to  the  location  where 
he  still  is.   Just  the  other  day,  cleaning  out  a  bunch  of 
old  catalogs — I  have  catalogs  kicking  around  here,  some  of 


them  dated  192  8,  periods  of  that  time — I  ran  across  about 
a  dozen  of  Max's  catalogs.   The  earliest  one  was  dated 
catalog  number  three,  around  '30,  '31.   So  for  a  gag  I 
called  him.   I  said,  "Max,  I  want  to  give  you  an  order." 
He  said,  "Louis,  that's  great."   So  I  told  him,  "From 
catalog  three,  give  me  item  number  seven."   He  said, 
"Louis ,  what  are  you  talking  about?   Where  did  you  find 
that?"   I  said,  "Well,  Max,  I  found  a  group  of  your  old 
catalogs.   How  would  you  like  to  have  them?"   "Oh,"  he 
said,  "I'd  love  to  have  them."   So  I  said,  "Okay,  I'll 
send  them  on  to  you."   He  got  a  big  kick  out  of  that. 
GARDNER:   What  was  the  item? 

EPSTEIN:   I  have  no  idea.   I  just  pulled  an  item  out  of 
it.   Things  that  are  now  selling  for  fifty  dollars  were 
listed  at  two  dollars.   This  is  way  back  in  the  middle 
thirties;  that  was  the  time  to  buy  rare  books.   But  no  one 
had  money  then.   It's  amazing.   I  think  I  mentioned  Max  be- 
fore.  However,  Max  is  of  the  same  era  of  my  career  as  Mel 
Royer.   He,  too,  was  one  of  my  earliest  customers  on  Sixth 
Street.   He,  at  that  time,  was  working  for  a  stock  brokerage 
house.   And  of  course  the  stock  brokerage  houses  were  hav- 
ing even  a  rougher  time  than  they  are  now,  and  eventually 
he  lost  his  job.   He  worked  at  something  else  for  a  while, 
but  he  was  always  a  good  book  collector,  and  finally  he 
went  into  the  business.   And  we  used  to  buy  and  sell  to 
each  other.   His  people  had  the  Hunley  Theatre,  which  was 


on  Hollywood  Boulevard  not  too  far  from  Western.   He  was 
there  a  long,  long  time.   Max  was  a  very  conservative 
person,  and  even  in  those  days  I  think  he  would  venture 
in  and  out  of  the  stock  market.   I'm  inclined  to  believe 
that  Max  is  quite  provided  with  the  wherewithal  that  peo- 
ple call  "rich."   Ilaughter]   But  we  always  got  along  very 
nicely.   The  common  gag  was,  after  I  opened  up  on  Holly- 
wood Boulevard  and  began  to  prosper  a  little  bit,  he 
always  said,  "Louis,  what  do  you  do  with  all  your  money?" — 
which  is  still  a  gag  between  us.   The  first  one  who  gets 
a  line  out  when  we  meet. 

GARDNER:   He's  still  there  on  Santa  Monica  Boulevard? 
EPSTEIN:   Yes,  he's  still  there.   The  shop  is  closed  half 
the  time.   He  loves  to  go  fishing.   Every  year  he  used  to 
go  to  Europe.   He ' s  a  great  Anglophile.   He  used  to  go  to 
Europe  for  about  two  months  and  go  through  the  bookshops 
there,  besides  taking  a  walking  tour  or  a  bicycle  tour, 
combining  business  with  pleasure.   He  had  a  nice  way  of 
living,  just  the  way  he  wanted,  and  he  ran  his  business 
that  way.   It  leads  me  to  believe  that  he  wasn't  that  hard- 
pressed  for  business,  like  the  rest  of  us  were  at  that  time; 
that  he  could  do  the  things  he  did  at  the  time  he  did  them. 
None  of  us  could  close  up  for  two  months  and  go  traveling. 
GARDNER:   Did  he  have  any  specialization  in  particular? 
EPSTEIN:   He  specialized  in  first  editions.   He  went  in 
the  children' s-book  market.  Western  books.   Quite  general, 


rare  books . 

GARDNER:   I  made  a  note — I  think  we  looked  through  the 
same  catalog,  probably--in  that  first  1950  antiquarians' 
listing  they  mention  that  he  attended  Columbia  and  the 
University  of  Paris  as  well  as  UCLA. 

EPSTEIN:   That  I  didn't  know,  and  I'm  glad  to  learn  that. 
He  was  a  big  cut  above  the  average  bookman  as  far  as  knowl- 
edge and  background  was  concerned.   That  was  apparent.   I 
knew  he  was  well  educated,  but  I  did  not  know  that  he  went 
to  those  universities. 

GARDNER:   Well,  that  attests  to  his  humility,  anyway. 
EPSTEIN:   That  verifies  the  fact  that  there  must  have  been 
money  in  the  family,  because  I  don't  know  of  any  other  book- 
seller who  had  that  kind  of  background,  who  could  have 
afforded  to  go  to  those  schools.   Most  of  us,  like  Jake 
and  myself,  had  to  dig  in  to  scratch  out  a  living,  and 
the  same  way  for  our  parents.   Jake's  parents  in  Texas, 
where  he  came  from — from  discussions  with  Jake — were  about 
on  a  par  with  my  parents.   Our  generation  just  didn't  have 
the  money  to  send  their  children  to  those  kinds  of  schools — 
I  mean,  our  parents'  generation,  not  my  generation.   Some- 
times I  consider  myself  a  first-generation  American;  and 
other  times  I'm  an  immigrant  because  I  came  here  when  I 
was  seven,  and  it's  hard  to  identify  myself  with  my  father's 
generation,  which  is  the  real  immigrant  generation.   But 
I'm  practically  raised  almost  as  an  American-born.   But  still 


I  am  an  immigrant. 

GARDNER:   My  notes  say — while  we're  vaguely  on  the  subject 
Harry  Levinson  went  to  City  College  of  New  York,  which 
would  put  him,  I  suppose,  in  the  same  category  with  you 
and  Jake,  since  that  was  a  public  university. 
EPSTEIN:   Yes,  probably.   Well,  of  course,  I  went  to  a 
university,  too,  but  they  didn't  have  those  multiple  col- 
leges, as  you  mentioned  for  Max.   Max  had  real  scholarship 
behind  him.   Getting  a  bachelor's  degree  was — sometimes  we 
attained  that. 

I  mentioned  Max,  and  I  mentioned  a  few  of  the  others. 
There  was  a  chap  by  the  name  of  Roman  Novins  who  was  in  the 
book  business  for  a  short  time.   He  had  a  little  shop  at 
62  4  North  Doheny. 

Then  Kurt  Schwarz  appears  on  the  scene  at  that  time. 
Kurt  Schwarz  is  still  in  business.   He  operates  from  his 
home  now.   I  think  Kurt  always  did.   No,  he  had  a  shop  at 
one  time  at  4  50  North  Beverly  Drive,  Beverly  Hills.   Kurt 
came  from  Germany.   He  left  Germany  before  the  concentration 
camp  era,  but  he  had  to  really  escape.   They  went  east 
rather  than  coming  west,  so  they  went  through  China.   He 
lived  in  Manchuria  for  a  while,  I  believe,  and  they  lived 
for  quite  a  while  in  Shanghai.   His  parents  were  booksellers, 
and  I  think  even  their  parents  before  them;  so  he  had  a 
thorough  background  in  the  rare-book  business.   Fortunately, 
once  you  have  a  rare-book  background  and  get  to  a  place  like 


Shanghai,  with  that  background  you  immediately  begin  to 
search  for  a  way  of  getting  into  the  rare-book  business 
there.   They  found  enough  books,  and  then  from  Shanghai 
they  could  correspond  to  England.   So  they  carried  on, 
more  or  less,  and  finally  came  to  this  country.   But  it 
is  apparent  that  they  did  not  lose  all  their  property. 
So  he  came  here  with  some  assets,  and  he  didn't  have  to 
start  from  scratch  and  struggle  like  the  case  might  have 
been  with  a  refugee.   Kurt  had  a  stroke  here  a  number  of 
years  ago,  and  he  still  walks  with  a  limp,  and  one  of  his 
arms  still  bothers  him.   Nevertheless,  he's  still  back 
conducting  his  business.   He's  training  his  son  [Thomas  F.], 
who,  instead  of  having  a  classical  education  for  the  book 
business,  studied  psychology.   I  don't  know  how  far  his 
degree  took  him--whether  he  ever  took  the  PhD  or  not.   But 
apparently  his  son  may  follow  up  in  the  trade. 
GARDNER:   What  was  his  specialization? 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  early  books  in  all  languages.   A  lot  of  the 
foreign  rare  books.   His  business  was  predominantly  in  very 
scarce  books  for  libraries  and  for  collectors.   But  he  was 
a  very  fine  gentleman.   His  wife  [Martha  M.]  is  very  nice. 
r  reraeiT±>er  we  were  there  one  time  for  a  meeting,  and  his 
wife  baked  a  chocolate  cake  which  Ann  fell  in  love  with. 
And  Ann  asked  her  for  the  recipe,  and  she  gave  her  the 
recipe  in  ounces  of  everything,  not  pints.   Everything  was 
measured  in  ounces,  including  the  eggs.   Ann  tried  the 


recipe,  and  it  came  out  pretty  good  but  not  quite  as  well 
as  Mrs.  Schwarz's.   She  was  a  Viennese  cook.   Everything 
was  very  rich,  but  excellent. 

Let's  see.   Borzon  Books:   it's  a  shop  that  opened 
at  1624  North  Las  Palmas.   It  didn't  last  very  long.   I 
mention  it  simply  because  it  was  there.   Martin  Bloch 
opened  up  a  little  bookstore  at  1716  North  Wilcox.   He 
worked  for  years  for  the  Hollywood  Bookstore.   A  very 
good  bookman,  very  erratic.   He  later  was  one  of  the  pub- 
lishers and  the  editor  of  a  magazine  called  One ,  which  was 
a  magazine  for  the  gay  community.   I  doubt  whether  that 
magazine  is  still  in  existence  or  not.   But  at  any  rate, 
he's  out  of  that.   Where  he  is  now,  I  have  no  idea.   But 
he  was  a  good  bookman.   You  never  knew  which  way  he  was 
going  to  jump  when  you  met  him.   But  he  could  sell  books, 
and  he  knew  his  books.   He  really  was  much  interested  in 

Brentano's  closed  up  their  downtown  store  that  year. 
California  Book  Company,  which  I  mentioned  to  you  was  Max 
Walker,  closed  out.   Harry  Dale  moved  his  Bookazine  to 
649  South  Main.   I  think  Harry  used  to  move  whenever  a 
landlord  of  his  couldn't  wait  any  longer  for  his  rent. 

Howard  and  Reese  bought  719  West  Sixth  Street,  which 
was,  I  think,  the  old  Curio,  and  it  became  the  Book  Center. 
I  think  I  mentioned  that.   It's  a  Miss  Howard  and  a  Mr. 
Reese.   Miss  Howard  was  a  musician  with  the  Los  Angeles 


Philharmonic,  and  she  was  a  customer  of  ours  for  many, 
many  years.   She  lived  with  a  friend  of  hers,  a  lady  friend, 
and  they  were  both  good  book  buyers,  both  of  them  musicians. 
All  of  a  sudden  she  announces  to  us  that  she  had  bought 
that  store.   And  the  partner,  Reese,  is  a  chap  who  used 
to  work  for  us  in  the  old-book  department.   I  didn't  think 
much  of  his  ability.   At  any  rate,  they  bought  that  store. 
Miss  Howard  always  wanted  to  own  a  bookstore.   And  she  had 
a  few  thousand  dollars  saved  up,  and  she  put  it  into  that 
bookstore — which,  of  course,  turned  out  to  be  a  disaster. 
After  two  years,  I  guess,  Reese  had  it  all--not  because  he 
took  it  from  her,  but  because  she  just  didn't  want  it  any- 
more . 

GARDNER:   Why  was  it  a  disaster? 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  they  just  weren't  doing  any  business.   She 
didn't  have  any  time  to  pay  attention  to  it.   It's  the  kind 
of  store  that  they  bought.   If  they'd  bought,  perhaps,  a 
smaller  store,  they  could  have  specialized--say ,  she  in 
music,  or  he  in  something  else—and  they'd  have  built  up 
a  business.   It  might  have  had  an  opportunity  to  be  success- 
ful.  But  as  I  mentioned  to  you,  that  Curio  Bookshop,  which 
became  later  the  Book  Center,  was  a  junk  heap.   There  were 
so  many  books  in  there  that  no  one  could  find  anything.   And 
Reese,  again,  was  the  type  of  person  who  couldn't  leave  a 
thing  alone.   He  had  no  way  of  measuring  the  worth  of  his 
time,  in  the  sense  that  he  would  spend  as  much  time 


classifying  and  looking  up  a  book  that  was  on  face  worth- 
less; but  no,  he  had  to  find  out  the  exact  price  at  which 
it  was  published  and  everything  about  it.   And  having  been 
as  long  in  the  business  as  he  had  been,  working  for  us,  and 
seeing  all  the  books  priced,  he  should  have  been  able  to 
throw  things  out,  worthless  things,  and  able  to  price  things 
right  from  his  head,  instead  of  having  to  catalog  separately 
each  and  every  book  that  came  his  way.   If  he  tried  to  do 
that  for  the  entire  stock  of  Curio  Bookshop,  it  would  take 
him  five  of  his  lifetimes.   He  had  the  same  kind  of  a  fault 
as  Bechtold.   But  Bechtold  realized  that,  I  suppose — and 
we  explained  it  to  him.   He  went  into  his  own  specialty  in 
a  small  way,  out  of  his  own  home,  and  did  his  thing — whereas 
this  chap,  I  don't  think  was  as  smart  as  Bechtold. 

So  poor  Howard  lost  her  money,  and  eventually  Reese 
had  to  give  the  thing  up,  too.   But  these  curious  combina- 
tions that  gathered  together  in  the  book  business — simply 
because  he  had  worked  for  the  Pickwick,  which  gave  him  a 
little  bit  of  status.   He  had  worked  in  the  old-book  depart- 
ment there,  and  they  had  met  there,  in  the  old-book  depart- 
ment.  But  Howard  was  a  very  nice  woman.   I  was  really  sorry 
when  she  told  me  that  she  went  into  that  deal.   I  told  her, 
"Why  didn't  you  consult  with  me?"   No,  she  wanted  to  keep  it 
private.   She  was  a  private  person.   But  later  on  she  told 
me  that  she  wishes  that  she  had.   But  I  don't  suppose  anyone 
could  have  talked  her  out  of  it.   She  had  almost  a  compulsion 


that  she  wanted  to  be  [in  business].   I  haven't  seen  her 
in  years.   She's  no  longer  with  the  Philharmonic.   She  may 
be  retired  and  is  living  quietly  somewhere. 

There  was  an  outfit  in  South  Pasadena,  I  believe  it  was, 
called  P.D.  and  lone  Perkins.   Oriental  books.   And  that  was 
their  specialty:   books  about  the  Orient  and  Japanese  books, 
mostly  Japanese  books.   I  don't  think  they  had  any  Chinese 
books.   And  P.D.  Perkins  had  been  a  salesman  for  the  Sparkletts 
water  firm.   What  was  the  name?   It  had  a  different  name.   The 
Coca-Cola  Company  of  Los  Angeles  bought  them  out.   And  he  had 
been  a  sales  manager  for  them.   Very  nice  man.   But  he  got 
this  yen  for  Oriental  books.   I  guess  he  started  collecting 
Oriental  things.   He  used  to  go  back  to  Japan.   He  gave  up 
his  job  with  Sparkletts.   They  had  another  name.   They  had 
two  kinds  of  water — Sparkletts  and  something  else. 
GARDNER:   Arrowhead? 

EPSTEIN:   Arrowhead,  right.   Arrowhead,  that's  it.   I  don't 
know  what  happened  to  the  name  of  Arrowhead. 

GARDNER:   They're  still  there.   It's  another  company,  isn't 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  they  bought  out  Sparkletts  and  Arrowhead 
combined,  and  then  Coca-Cola  of  L.A.  bought  the  combined 
outfit.   They  were  both  competing  water  companies. 
GARDNER:   There  still  are  two.   I  wonder  what  the  second 
one  is? 
EPSTEIN:   They  may  use  the  two  different  trade  names.   I 


see  Sparkletts,  but  I  never  see  Arrowhead.  Maybe  in  some 
other  communities,  they  might  use  the  name  Arrowhead.  I 
don't  know.  But  they  combined,  and  then  a  local  Coca-Cola 
Company  bought  them  both.  I  happen  to  know  that  because  I 
own  some  stock  in  the  local  Coca-Cola  Company--which  might 
do  better  than  it's  doing.  It  was  very  good,  but  it  isn't 

At  any  rate,  he  went  to  Japan  and  lived  there  for  a 
while,  then  he  came  back  and  he  adopted  Japanese  mannerisms. 
He  used  to  bow  to  you  three  times  when  you  met.   But  he 
was  a  nice  person.   What  he  did,  he  did  well,  and  apparent- 
ly he  made  out  well.   They  sold  the  company  to  some  other 
people,  who  are  running  it,  I  think,  under  the  same  name — 
not  Perkins,  but  something  else.   But  I  don't  hear  too  much 
about  them  now. 

I  have  a  note  here  that  this  period  of  '51,  Jack 
Reynolds  moved  to  16031  Sherman  Way.   I  told  you  I  didn't 
know  just  where  he  moved  to.   I'm  coming  to  1952.   The 
Technical  Book  Company  moved  to  353  South  Spring — I  men- 
tioned to  you  that  they  later  moved  to  Spring — and  Gideon 
Herman  became  the  owner  of  the  Abbey  Bookshop,  which  I  men- 
tioned previously  in  the  history. 

Charlie  Yale  opened  the  shop  at  985  East  Green  Street 
in  Pasadena.   I  mentioned  before  that  Charlie  Yale  had  worked 
for  Dawson's  for  many  years.   He  was  their  second-in-command, 
a  very  fine  bookman  and  a  very  fine  person.   I  remember  when 


I  first  opened  on  Sixth  Street,  he  came  over  and  introduced 
himself  and  offered  his  help  to  answer  any  questions  I 
might  have,  which  I  thought  was  extremely  nice.   I  think 
I  mentioned  Mr.  Dawson  did  the  same  thing.   The  Dawson 
people  were  always  very  fine,  very  nice  people,  in  that 
they  were  always  helping  the  trade.   To  this  day,  I  think 
Glen  and  Muir  are  always  doing  something  for  the  booksellers' 
organizations.   They  participate  in  everything  bookish. 
Glen  is  on  the  board  of  Los  Angeles  Library  Association, 
of  which  I  am  a  member  at  the  present  time.   I  have  a  meet- 
ing tomorrow.   LALA. 

Coming  back  to  Charlie  Yale:   he  left  Dawson's  and 
opened  a  business  of  his  own;  and  later  on  his  son.  Bud 
Yale,  came  in.   Charlie  Yale,  unfortunately,  died,  oh, 
about  five,  six  years  after  he  opened  the  shop.   And  his 
son  took  over  and  ran  it  for  about  five,  six,  seven  years, 
and  then  he  died.   It  was  very  unfortunate,  especially  the 
son  was  a  very  young  man  when  he  died.   But  Charlie--!  guess, 
I  considered  him  about  ten  years  older  than  I  when  I  first 
met  him  at  Dawson's,   But  he  was  one  of  the  good  bookish 
bookmen,  and  he  knew  his  business,  knew  his  Western  Americana 
thoroughly.   That  was  his  specialty. 
GARDNER:   Had  his  son  kept  up  the  business? 

EPSTEIN:  The  son  kept  up  the  business  on  Green  Street  until 
he  died,  when  they  sold  off  the  stock.  As  a  matter  of  fact, 
the  other  day,  looking  through  the  old  catalogs,  I  found  the 


last  catalog  that  was  put  out  after  the  son's  death,  to 

liquidate  the  stock.   [There  were]  a  lot  of  bibliographies 

that  I  would  like  to  have  now,  now  that  I  have  time  to 

read  them,  just  for  the  sake  of  having  the  background 

knowledge . 

GARDNER:   An  interesting  point,  when  I  was  looking  through 

the  minutes  of  the  antiquarian  society.  .  .  . 

EPSTEIN:   He  was,  I  think,  the  first  president. 

GARDNER:   He  was  the  first  president,  and  then  also,  I 

guess  you  succeeded  him,  I  think. 

EPSTEIN:   Yes. 

GARDNER:   Because  when  he  died,  I  think,  during  your  term, 

you  gave  the  eulogy  at  the  funeral. 

EPSTEIN:   Yes.   How  about  that?  Where 'd  you  get  that 


GARDNER:   Out  of  those  document  boxes  I  told  you  were  at 


EPSTEIN:   Yes,  I  succeeded  him.   He  and  I  and  several 

others  were  the  founding  members. 

GAFIDNER:   Well,  we  can  talk  about  that  when  we  get  through 

the  list,  perhaps,  about  how  it  happened  to  be  founded. 

EPSTEIN:   And  also  '52  was  the  year  that  Dale  bought  out 

Holmes.   Mr.  Harelick  moved  to  Melrose,  which  is  simply 

entered  here  just  for  the  record.   There  was  a  circulating 

library  which  did  a  very  big  business,  called  Guild  Rental 

Library,  at  7208  Hollywood  Boulevard,  which  is  just  east  of  La 


Brea.   And  the  man  who  ran  it — I  forget  his  name — used 
to  buy  books  from  us,  and  from  time  to  time  we'd  have 
some  dealings  of  one  kind  or  another.   He  used  to  rent 
a  lot  of  books  to  studios  for  reading,  for  the  readers, 
whereas  we  used  to  rent  a  lot  of  books  to  studios  for 
background,  for  movie  sets.   They  would  lease  them  to 
the  readers  for  reading  purposes.   When  they  got  a  story 
they  were  interested  in,  instead  of  buying  the  book,  this 
man  would  loan  it  out  to  them.   At  that  time  there  were 
a  lot  of  people  still  going  to  circulating  libraries. 
But  it  was  a  dying  business,  and  eventually  he  had  to 
sell  it  off  or  get  rid  of  his  stock. 

I  notice  that's  the  year  that  Milton  Luboviski  parted 
company  with  Ida  Needham.   Have  I  talked  to  you  about  the 

EPSTEIN:   Ida  Needham' s  husband  was  Wilbur.   Wilbur  was 
totally  deaf.   She,  of  course,  Tvas  his  mouthpiece  and  his 
ears.   Wilbur  was  a  very  literary  person.   He  did  some 
book  reviewing  for  the  Times  when  Paul  Jordan-Smith  was 
editor  of  the  Times  book  page.   They  opened  a  store,  for 
secondhand  books ,  during  the  bad  years .   They  had  a 
struggle.   They  fought  their  way  up  and  established  a 
pretty  fair  business,  which  later  was  in  Brentwood  on 
San  Vicente. 
GARDNER:   Was  this  after  the  association  with  Luboviski? 


EPSTEIN:   Yes. 
GARDNER:   I  see. 

EPSTEIN:   Ida  had  worked  around  in  various  bookstores  from 
time  to  time.   She'd  worked  for  Milton  and  some  of  the  others. 
Ida  was  a  very  good  bookwoman,  and  Wilbur  knew  his  book- 
stores and  he  knew  how  to  hunt  out  books.   But  they  were 
never  in  the  big  time  in  the  book  business.   Number  one, 
they  weren't  too  businesslike;  and  Wilbur,  of  course,  had 
this  horrible  handicap  of  not  being  able  to  hear.   Wilbur 
was  very  social  conscious.   Of  course,  Ida  was,  too,  but 
not  to  the  degree  that  Wilbur  was.   I  wouldn't  be  surprised 
that  Wilbur  at  one  time  might  have  been  a  member  of  the 
iCommunist]  party.   He  used  to  come  into  my  place.   He  was 
always  going  around  looking  for  books  for  the  shop  or  for 
others  or  for  customers.   And  we'd  sell  him  a  lot  of  books. 

But  he  became  angry  with  me,  for  this  reason:   there 
was  a  group  started  up  in  our  store  who  were  going  to  have 
a  strike,  which  never  got  off  its  feet.   And  apparently  he 
was  familiar  with  the  background  of  it.   And  the  reason  it 
never  did  get  off  its  feet — it  probably  wouldn't  have  gotten 
off  its  feet  for  more  reasons  than  the  one  that's  given.   And 
the  reason  for  its  immediate  failure  was  that  the  attorney 
we  hired  to  represent  us  against  the  union  researched  most 
everybody,  and  he  discovered  that  their  leader  was  a  chap 
working  for  us  for  a  time,  but  not  for  long,  by  the  name  of 
[Robert]  Klonsky. 


JULY  15,  1974 

GARDNER:   I'm  waiting  with  bated  breath  for  the  end  of  the 
sentence.   [laughter] 

EPSTEIN:   Klonsky  was  a  Communist  from  way  back.   His 
picture  appeared  in  an  early  issue  of  Life  magazine  as 
a  very  young  man.   He  would  be  the  picture  of  a  Communist, 
you  might  picture,  of  a  Communist  of  the  twenties — wild 
hair  and  wild  eyes.   I  suppose  they  might  have  gotten  the 
picture  during  wild  circumstances,  too.   But  at  any  rate, 
he  was  that.   The  attorney  we  had  for  us,  of  course,  re- 
searched the  leaders,  the  people  for  it,  and  he  brought 
that  information  to  the  [Retail]  Clerks'  Union.   "Here  is 

your  leader;  here's  his  picture;  here's  the  documenta- 

tion  on  him."   And  the  strike  threat  collapsed.    They 

couldn't  have  organized  our  place  anyway  because  the  peo- 
ple there  didn't  want  to  go  to  any  union.   (Remind  me  to 
get  back  to  Wilbur,  which  was  where  the  story  started.) 

*   Strike  threat  occurred  around  the  first  week  of  December 
1957.   Our  attorneys  were  Sheppard,  Mullin,  Richter,  Balthis 
&  Hampton.   Working  with  them  from  their  offices  was  a  labor 
relations  counselor  by  the  name  of  Jack  McDowell.   He  was 
the  one  we  worked  very  closely  with.   The  Retail  Clerks 
International  Association  (affiliated  with  AFL-CIO)  repre- 
sentative was  Mel  Rubin.   Local  777.   Curious  comment  can 
be  made  that  local  777  was  a  good  customer  of  Pickwick,  and 
continued  to  buy  books  from  Pickwick  through  the  entire 
controversy,  and  remained  a  good  customer,  and  probably 
still  is. — [L.E. ] 


But  while  I'm  on  this  strike  business,  this  Klonsky  had 
just  been  hired  about  two  months  before.   He  claimed  that 
he  had  a  little  bookstore  in  Philadelphia,  and  anyone  with 
a  little  bit  of  experience,  we  were  very  happy  to  have. 
Well,  I  never  bothered  to  ask  anybody  what  kind  of  a  book- 
store it  was.   It  happened  to  be  the  same  kind  of  a  radical- 
book  store  as  the  Lincoln  Bookstore,  or  whatever  the--what 
is  the  one  called  here  now,  the  People's  Bookstore?   I  don't 
think  the  People's  Bookstore  here  now  represents  the 
Communist  party  the  way  that  those  bookstores  were  really 
arms  of  the  party  in  those  days  because  the  party,  of  course, 
is  not  near  as  strong  now  as  it  was  then.   They  don't  have 
the  money. 

At  any  rate,  within  three  weeks,  four  weeks,  we  had  a 
strike  on  our  hands — or  the  threat  of  a  strike.   Well,  at 
any  rate,  we  blocked  it.   Apparently,  there  was  a  coterie, 
an  association.   Immediately,  we  lost  the  goodwill  of  a  seg- 
ment of  dealers  and  a  segment  of  our  customers--for  no  reason 
at  all  except  that  there  was  the  threat  of  a  strike  and  that 
the  strike  did  not  succeed.   I  received  a  few  nasty  letters, 
and  they  were  not  from  the  people  who  I.  .  .  .   One  of  them 
was  from  a  person  who'd  been  a  customer  for  years.   Apparently, 
they  did  have  sort  of  an  underground,  which  was  connected, 
perhaps  because  of  him — Klonsky.   Word  got  around  from  di- 
rections which  I  never  had  heard  of.   And  apparently  Wilbur 
was  involved  in  some  way--not  associated  but  knew  these 


people  well  enough  to  come  to  me  one  day  and  cuss  me  out 
for  being  a  capitalist.   And  he  never  came  back  to  our 
shop.   We  were  very  good  friends.   I'd  befriended  him  on 
many  occasions.   I  loaned  him  money,  and  I  actually  gave 
him  money  when  they  were  starving.   But  that  cut  no  ice 
with  him.   I  was  a  capitalist.   I  was  a  no-good  capitalist. 


At  what  point  was  this? 

Well,  let  me  see.   It  would  be  in  1958. 

Who  was  your  attorney? 

I  can't  think  of  him.   [See  note.]   I  haven't  seen 
or  talked  to  him  in  [years].   I  had  to  hire  a  special  labor 
attorney.   My  attorney  advised  me  to  seek  him  out,  and  I 
did.   I  got  him  through  some  people  here  in  Hollywood  who 
had  had  similar  trouble.   I  can't  think  of  his  name. 
GARDNER:   So  back  to  Wilbur  Needham. 

EPSTEIN:   That  was  one  incident  where  it  really  hurt--not 
my  pride,  but  I  thought  that  I  was  unjustly  accused  of  do- 
ing a  bad  thing.   I  don't  think  I  did  a  bad  thing  because 
operating  a  bookstore  under  a  union,  especially  with  what 
the  unions  are  trying  to  do  now  in  bookstores,  would  be  an 
almost  impossible  task.   At  least,  I  thought  so  at  the  time, 
and  I  still  think  so.   At  that  time,  it  was  even  worse,  be- 
cause of  the  demands  they  make.   They  came  in  with  a  series 
of  demands:   to  have  a  policy  in  the  business,  and  to  even 
have  a  right  to  reject  certain  books — which  is  totally  im- 
possible to  run  the  kind  of  a  bookstore  I  want  and  the  kind 


of  a  bookstore  any  reasonable  man  would  want  to  run  if  he 
wanted  to  be  independent,  have  an  independent  mind  of  his 
own.   At  any  rate,  the  thing  fell  through.   Wilbur  was 
angry  with  me  and  really  told  me  off  in  no  uncertain  terms 
that  I  was  a  goddamned  capitalist.   I  used  to  bump  into 
Ida  every  so  often  in  book  places.   I  did  bump  into  Wilbur 
once  or  twice  over  the  years,  but  we  just  exchanged  hello, 
nothing  beyond  that.   But  Ida  probably  was  a  little  bit 
more  open-minded  on  the  subject,  and  she  used  to  come  in 
when  she  needed  something  or  when  she  thought  she  had  some- 
thing that  we  might  need.   But  I  never  saw  their  shop  that 
they  opened.   I  understand  it's  a  very  nice  shop. 
GARDNER:   Well,  they've  moved  now  from  Brentwood. 
EPSTEIN:   When  Wilbur  died,  Ida  sold  the  shop,  and  it's 
now  moved  to  Westwood  Boulevard,  2000  block  something.   I'm 
trying  to  think  of  the  name  of  the  couple  that  own  it.   I'll 
get  you  the  name.   It  should  be  in  the  record  right  now. 
[tape  stopped]   The  Needham  Bookshop  is  now  the  Needham 
Book  Finders.   Ida  sold  out  to  the  Needham  Book  Finders, 
the  [Stanley  and  Eleanor]  Kurmans.   And  they  belong  to  the 
Antiquarian  Booksellers  now.   They're  running  a  nice  shop. 
They  do  some  library  business,  of  course,  like  most  of  the 
old-book  shops  have  to  these  days. 

Well,  that's  the  story  of  Wilbur  and  Ida  Needham.   I 
was  fond  of  Wilbur,  and  that's  why  it  hurt  me  so  much.   You 
know,  some  things  you  pass  off,  but  it  hurt  my  pride  and  it 


hurt  my  feeling  of  friendship.   We  were  really  friendly  to 
him.   We  went  out  of  our  way  to  give  him  deals,  and  when 
they  went  in  the  old-book  business,  sometimes  when  [there 
was]  something  we  couldn't  deal  in,  they  could.   We  recom- 
mended them  at  every  turn.   We  did  the  most  we  could--be- 
cause  it  was  a  hardship.   The  man  had  an  extreme  handicap. 
Perhaps  it  was  the  handicap  that  made  him  more  bitter  than 
perhaps  some  other  people.   But  he  was  a  true  idealist.   The 
fact  that  he  expressed  his  idealism  in  that  form — well, 
like  a  great  many  others.   I  don't  know;  the  full  history 
isn't  told  yet.   It  takes  a  couple  of  hundred  years,  maybe, 
to  find  out  actually  which  system  is  better.   And  it  also 
proved  to  me  that  it  was  still  a  very  active  party.   Within 
days  of  the  whole  thing,  I  started  getting  nasty  letters 
from  people  and  phony  phone  calls.   "Come  out  to  such  and 
such  an  address;  we've  got  a  big  library."   We'd  get  out 
there,  and  there  was  no  such  address.   It  strictly  emanated 
from  that,  which,  of  course,  reminds  me  of  the  time  when 
Hollywood  had  a  powerful  commune  here  before  and  after  the 
Hollywood  Ten  incident.   They  were  quite  arrogant  when 
they  thought  they  were  in  power,  almost  as  arrogant  as  the 
Birchers  were  when  they  thought  they  were  in  power — you 
know,  taking  a  book  and  throwing  it  on  the  floor:   "Why  in 
the  hell  are  you  selling  this  fascist  book?"   Or  "Nazi  book" 
or  whatever.   And  it's  only  fascist  and  Nazi  because  they 
said  so.   Maybe  the  man's  leanings  were  that  way.   I  don't 


know.   But  they  weren't  that  bad,  except  that  they  said 
it.   And  by  the  same  token:   "Why  don't  you  put  this  one 
in  the  window?"  when  it  was  somebody  they  liked — which 
is  exactly  the  same  tactics  that  the  Birchers  used,  except 
the  Birchers  used  to  write  more  letters  and  [have]  more 
direct  phone  calls  saying,  "Close  my  account."   They 
didn't  write  nasty  letters.   They  would  write  nasty  let- 
ters in  the  sense  that,  "I  won't  trade  with  you  now;  you're 
a  traitor  to  your  country,"  but  not  nasty  letters,  in  the 
sense  that  they  called  you  names  or  things  of  that  nature, 
which  was  the  other  type.   But  the  extremes  go  to  extremes, 
which  of  course  has  taught  me--and  would  teach  anyone  who 
was  a  reasonable  person — a  lesson:   stay  away  from  extremes. 
There's  room  for  everybody.   Stay  away  from  extremes.   Ex- 
tremes are  dangerous  in  many  ways.   In  politics,  in  science, 
you  have  to  find  a  means  of  doing  things  which  is  reasonable, 
to  make  it  fit  into  the  machinery  or  change  the  machinery 
when  you  can,  but  you  have  to  mesh  into  the  machinery  for 
everyday  living.   And  there's  a  certain  way  of  having  the 
machinery  changed--or  repaired,  you  might  say~to  do  a  better 
job  this  way  or  the  other. 

As  far  as  politics  was  concerned,  I  was  almost  apolit- 
ical, in  the  sense  that  parties  themselves  were  meaning- 
less terms  to  me  in  most  cases.   When  I  did  vote,  I  would 
vote  for  the  man.   I  was  a  registered  Democrat.   You  have  to 
pick  one  party  or  another,  and  my  leanings  were  more  for  the 


Democratic  ideas  rather  than  the  Republican.   But  if  the 
Rep\iblicans  put  up  a  man  like  Warren,  I  voted  for  Warren — 
or  [Goodwin  J. ]  Knight — rather  than  whoever  the  Democrats 
had  at  the  time.   Even  to  this  day,  people  ask  me  who  I'll 
vote  for.   I'll  wait  and  see  and  listen  to  the  guy  for  a 
while  rather  than  say,  "Well,  I'm  a  Democrat.   I  have  to 
vote  for  the  Democratic  party."   Well,  that's  quite  an  aside 
from  where  we  were. 

That's  the  story  of  my  relations  v/ith  the  Needhams. 
Curiously,  I  bumped  into  Ida.   She  was  in  the  shop  several 
years  ago,  before  I  retired.   The  year  before  I  retired-- 
about  three  years  ago.   And  we  had  quite  a  nice  visit  to- 
gether.  ^Vhen  Wilbur  died,  I  sent  her  a  nice  letter,  tell- 
ing her  how  much  I  admired  his  knowledge  and  the  fact  that 
he  put  up  such  a  fine  struggle  to  do  what  he  wanted  to  do 
in  the  book  business.   I  didn't  say  anything  about  the 
fact  that  we  had  our  differences.   Because  I  did  admire 
him:   I  admired  his  courage,  and  I  admired  his  literary 
knowledge  and  his  taste  for  books.   He  was  one  of  the  first 
ones  to  pick  up  Steinbeck  with  his  first  book;  he  picked 
him  as  a  comer.   He  had  all  the  early  Steinbecks,  which 
later  became  very  valuable.   And  he  became  acquainted  with 
Steinbeck.   He  had  a  lot  of  autographed  Steinbeck  material, 
which  I  imagine  Ida  still  has.   Well,  that's  that. 

In  1952  we  noticed  that  Milton  Luboviski  and  Ida  had 
separated.   I'm  not  sure  whether  Ida  just  worked  for  him  or 


whether  it  was  a  partnership. 

GARDNER:   At  that  point  the  shop  is  Milton  Luboviski's, 
isn't  it? 

EPSTEIN:   Yes.   Larry  Edmunds. 

GARDNER:   What's  happened  to  Larry  Edmunds  in  the  meantime? 
EPSTEIN:   Didn't  I  mention  when  I  spoke  of  Stanley  Rose 
that  Larry  Edmunds  later  had  committed  suicide? 
GARDNER:   Oh,  he  did,  too? 

EPSTEIN:   It's  a  curious  thing.   Milton  Luboviski's  first 
wife — he  and  his  first  wife  was  divorced,  and  Larry  Edmunds 
married  her.   Later  on  they  had  problems,  and  next  we  heard 
that  Larry  had  committed  suicide.   Larry,  I  think,  was  in- 
volved to  some  degree,  involved  in  the  [Communist]  party. 
I  heard  rumblings  that  that  in  some  way  led  to  his  suicide. 
Now,  I've  never  heard  the  full  details,  and  I  offer  this 
statement  only  as  something  that  I  heard.   But  I'm  convinced 
in  my  own  mind  that  he  was  involved  with  the  party,  because 
the  actions  and  reactions  to  the  Russian-United  States  re- 
lationship was  such  that  you  could  feel  it — the  way  they 
reacted  to  something  that  Russia  did  and  the  way  they  re- 
acted to  something  the  United  States  did  versus  Russia. 
There  was  quite  a  colony  here  in  Hollywood,  and  anybody 
that  denies  it  isn't  so.  .  .  .   Not  that  I  feel  that  the 
Hollywood  Ten  were  treated  properly,  because  I  think  they 
were  not.   And  I  knew  them  all.   And  80  percent  of  them 
that  I  knew  were  Communists,  but  two  of  them  I  was  not  too 


well  acquainted  with.   They  were  all  customers  of  ours. 
I  never  approved  of  the  treatment  they  got.   But  they 
were;  there  was  no  question  in  my  mind  that  they  were. 
The  fact  that  it  was  nobody's  business  whether  they  were 
or  not  is  something  else  again.   To  be  condemned  for  what 
they  were  years  later  was  wrong.   That's  the  way  they  felt 
and  that's  the  way  it  was. 

But  there  was  that  colony  which  was  related  to  that 
particular  Luboviski  and  Larry  Edmunds  bookstore  when  they 
were  partners.   Now,  to  what  extent  Milton  was  involved  in 
those  days,  I  don't  know,  but  there's  no  question  in  my 
mind  that  he  has  no  use  for  them  now. 

There  at  one  time  was  an  Anti-Nazi  League,  as  you 
remember.   And  they  had  a  bookstore  on  Fairfax  for  a  short 
time.   A  lot  of  the  Hollywood  people  were  supporting  it, 
and  of  course  the  Anti-Nazi  League  were  fighting  Nazis. 
We  paid  membership  dues  for  a  while,  because,  well,  we  used 
to  think.  .  .  .   But  there  was  a  strong  Commie  group  in  it, 
and  they  were  prepared  to  use  it  only  as  it  affected  Russia 
versus  Germany.   It  was  all  for  a  second  front,  for  the 
United  States  to  come  in  right  away.   Of  course,  when  things 
got  turned  around,  it  was  exactly  the  opposite  later.   \«Jhen 
the  second  front  had  to  be  extended  to  the  Pacific  area, 
they  were  not  there.   Well,  at  any  rate,  that's  a  digression 
from  bookselling.   But  it  was  part  of  the  Hollywood  scene. 
GARDNER:   To  get  back  to  the  bookselling,  Milton  Luboviski 


runs  the  store  to  this  day,  right? 

EPSTEIN:   He's  loyal  to  Larry  Edmunds's  name.   It's  run 
to  this  day.   Milton  is  a  top  authority  on  books  pertain- 
ing to  the  movies  and  movie  people  and  so  forth.   He  did 
a  lot  of  appraising  work  for  movie  writers  when  it  was 
the  fashion  to  give  things  to  some  charitable  institution. 
For  instance,  a  writer  had  a  lot  of  scripts,  and  they  were 
valued  at  x  number  of  dollars,  given  to  USC,  for  instance, 
where  they  have  a  school  of  motion  pictures--or  whatever 
they  call  it — and  also  UCLA,  to  get  a  tax  deduction  for 
it.   But  I  think  the  government  has  stepped  in  on  that 
and  is  not  as  liberal  in  the  tax  allowances  for  that  type 
of  thing.   [tape  stopped]   Milton  has  done  a  lot  of  apprais- 
ing work  as  an  official  appraiser,  as  a  licensed  appraiser. 
And  he  is  an  authority  on  certain  types  of  books,  especially 
the  film  arts  and  some  theater.   He  does  an  international 

GARDNER:   Well,  it's  an  area  that's  become  extremely  topical. 
EPSTEIN:   He  specializes  mostly  with  libraries  all  over  the 
world.   It  seems  like  every  country  that  gains  a  little  bit 
of  independence  wants  to  become  thoroughly  cultured,  so 
they  establish  a  motion  picture  department.   He's  listed 
in  all  the  bibliographies  and  directories,  I  suppose,  for 
that  kind  of  thing.   So  they  approach  him  or  they  had  heard 
of  him  or  they  had  been  here.   We  have  had  many  groups  of 
motion  picture  people  visiting  the  Pickwick  during  my  time, 


where  there  were  a  group  of  motion  picture  people  sent  by 
the  government.   And  we  have  sold  many  books  to  such  groups 
and  shipped  them  to  the  government.   But  he  has  a  lot  of 
old  things. 

GARDNER:   And  he's  one  of  the  only  ones  that  specializes 
in  that,  too. 

EPSTEIN:   One  of  the  only  ones — yes,  one  of  the  few  that 
specializes.   There  are  a  few  others.   But  he  has  accumu- 
lated a  tremendous  stock  of  that  thing,  and  he  has  them 
in  identifiable  order--which  is  the  big  thing.   So  if  they 
ask  for  something,  he  can  immediately  tell  them.   But  his 
prices — maybe  it  shouldn't  be  in  the  record — are  quite 
high.   And  he  admits  they're  high.   He  says,  "Well,  where 
else  are  you  going  to  get  it?" — which  I  suppose  is  right 
to  do. 

GARDNER:   Supply  and  demand. 

EPSTEIN:   To  come  back  to  another  year,  '53,  I  want  to  go 
on  record  with  the  name  of  Joe  Chevalier,  who  started  a 
small  business  on  Larchmont  Boulevard,  still  going  there-- 
Chevalier's  Bookstore.   Very  nice  chap.   One  reason  I  want 
him  to  be  on  the  record  is  that  he  later  became  the  president 
of  the  local  new-book  sellers'  group.   Not  an  overly  ambi- 
tious person  in  the  sense  that  he  wants  to  expand  his  busi- 
ness.  He  has  no  family  to  provide  for,  so  he  just  enjoys  a 
good  small  business  on  Larchmont,  south  of  Beverly,  in  that 
old  area  there.   Well,  that  is  about  all  I  have  from  the 


record.   I'll  have  to  do  some  more  research,  maybe,  to 
bring  it  up  to  date. 
GTU^NER:   Well,  at  your  leisure. 

EPSTEIN:   At  my  leisure?   VTho  has  leisure  anymore? 
GARDNER:   Well,  I'll  take  the  list  that  I  have  of  the 
antiquarians.   For  the  oral  record,  Mel  Royer  gave  a  docu- 
ment box  full  of  old  papers.   Apparently  he  was  secretary 
to  the  antiquarian  society  during  those  early  years. 
EPSTEIN:   Yes,  he  was.   He ' s  a  past  president  of  the  anti- 
quarians, too,  later  on. 

GARDNER:   And  perhaps  the  most  interesting  piece  of  infor- 
mation in  there  was  the  first  listing  of  the  Southern  Cali- 
fornia Antiquarian  Booksellers  [Association] ,  which  was  1950. 
Now,  many  of  these  names  we've  gone  through.   But  there  are 
some  I  think  perhaps  we  could  discuss  in  more  detail,  or 
there  might  be  some  who  got  left  out  here  and  there.   So 
as  long  as  I  have  this  list  handy.  .  .  .   And  then  when 
we  get  through  with  that,  we  can  go  into  the  background 
of  the  Antiquarian  [Booksellers  Association]  and  the  found- 
ing of  the  organization.   Well,  the  first  few  are  Ernest 
Gottlieb,  whom  we  did;  Max  Hunley,  whom  we  did;  Harry  Levin- 
son;  and  Walter  E.  Neuman.   Did  we  talk  about  him? 
EPSTEIN:   Walter  E.  Neuman. 

GARDNER:   He  was  on  Le  Doux  in  Beverly  Hills.   Do  you  re- 
call him? 
EPSTEIN:   I  recall  him.   I  don't  know  if  I  got  Gottlieb 


and  Neuman  confused.   They  were  both  German  refugees. 

GARDNER:   Gottlieb  was  music. 

EPSTEIN:   Gottlieb  was  music. 

GARDNER:   Neuman  was  old  maps  and  prints. 

EPSTEIN:   Right.   So  I  did  get  it  right.   Gottlieb  was 

music.   Yes.   Neuman  was  old  maps  and  prints,  and  he  would 

appear  at  book  auctions  and  book  sales  and  buy  anything 

with  colored  plates  in  it  and  colored  maps.   At  one  time  we 

competed  with  each  other  at  a  sale.   I  got  a  few  things, 

but  he  got  the  bulk  of  it  because  he  was  a  specialist.   I 

would  sell  it  as  a  book,  where  he  might  take  the  book  apart 

and  sell  it  as  plates. 

GARDNER:   He  was  at  132  North  Le  Doux  in  Beverly  Hills  at 

the  time. 

EPSTEIN:   Yeah.   Then  he  later  moved  out  to  Melrose.   He 

had  a  small  store  on  Melrose  near  Robertson;  132  Le  Doux 

is  a  residence.   He  was  operating  from  his  home  at  first. 

GARDNER:   Is  he  still  in  business  at  all? 

EPSTEIN:   I  don't  know.   I  never  hear  of  them.   I'm  inclined 

to  doubt  it. 

GARDNER:   Well,  we  did  Kurt  Schwarz.   The  next  one  that's 

listed  is  in  Claremont,  of  all  places.   It's  called  the 

Claremont  Book  and  Art  Shop. 

EPSTEIN:   A  chap  by  the  name  of  [Samuel  L.]  Brier.   Brier 

as  a  bookseller  came  out  here  from  New  York.   And  he  settled 

in  Claremont.   He  wanted  to  be  in  a  college  community.   And 


he  operated  a  small  bookstore  there--no  great  shakes.   He 
was  a  peculiar  type  of  person  in  the  sense  that  he  wasn't 
out  to  be  a  real  bookman.   I  wouldn't  call  him  a  poseur,  but 
he  wanted  to  be  intelligentsia.   But  he  wasn't  quite.   He 
wanted  that  atmosphere.   And  if  he  was  happy  there,  of 
course,  that  was  his  privilege.   He  used  to  come  in  town ; 
he  used  to  come  to  meetings  occasionally.   And  actually 
at  one  time  we  had  a  meeting,  when  Charlie  Yale  was  at 

GARDNER:   At  Griswold's  or  Claremont  Inn  or  something. 
EPSTEIN:   Right.   That  was  a  sort  of  memorial  meeting. 
Brier  was  there  and  I  think  he  furnished  the  refreshments 
for  that  meeting,  because  it  was  his  community.   They  were 
nice  people,  but  I  never  considered  him  as  a  real  major 
book  person. 

GARDNER:   I  was  curious  seeing  it.   I  wondered  how  extensive 
a  book  market  there  would  be  in  Claremont. 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  theoretically,  because  of  the  college,  there 
should  be  some  book  market.   Of  course,  there  weren't  as 
many  colleges  then  as  there  are  now.   There  wasn't  [an  ex- 
tensive book  market].   The  college  community  wasn't  big 
enough,  apparently,  or  maybe  he  was  not  the  right  person 
to  draw  them.   You  know,  it  takes  a  marriage  of  two.   There 
are  many  small  college  communities  where  a  good  bookstore 
has  been  established  simply  because  the  person  operating 
it  had  the  type  of  rapport  with  the  college  community  and 


the  town  community  to  establish  enough  business  to  make 
a  nice  go  of  it.   There  were  several  in  New  England.   There 
was  one  woman  in  particular.   I  can't  think  of  her  name  or 
the  name  of  the  bookstore.   She  ran  a  bookstore  under  a 
trade  name  of  some  kind,  so-and-so  bookstore--somewhere  in 
a  town  with  a  famous  girls'  college,  and  I  don't  even  re- 
member the  college,  whether  it  was  Smith  or  somewhere.   But 
it  can  be  done.   I  already  mentioned  that;  it  has  been  done 
in  many  areas.   But  I  don't  think  he  was  quite  the  person. 
GARDNER:   Next  is  Bechtold,  whom  we've  discussed.   He  was 
in  Culver  City  at  the  time,  doing  mostly  book  search.   And 
after  that  is  Arthur  Clark,  who  was  in  Glendale. 
EPSTEIN:   Arthur  H.  Clark. 

GARDNER:   Yes.   We  talked  about  Arthur  H.  Clark,  but  in  a 
very  limited  way. 

EPSTEIN:   Arthur  H.  Clark — his  business  was  established  in 
Cleveland  many,  many  years  ago.   He  published  Americana.   A 
lot  of  his  books  were  brought  to  him  by  amateur  historians 
and  other  historians,  and  he  would  publish  them  in  nice 
editions.   And  his  trade  was  mostly  to  libraries.   And 
then  he  also  dealt  in  old  books  of  Americana,  mostly  Western. 
In  the  thirties — I  forget  which  year — he  moved  to  the  Los 
Angeles  area,  bought  a  place  in  Glendale.   They  continued 
their  business  there  and  did  a  lot  of  printing.   They  did 
considerably  more  books  here,  I  think,  than  they  did  in  the 
Cleveland  area.   They  did  an  excellent  job  of  it  and 


continued  to  be  in  the  old-  and  rare-book  business.   I 
always  considered  them  to  be  high  priced,  but  apparently 
they  sold  enough  books  to  continue  in  business.   Their 
business  is  now  on  South  Brand  Boulevard.   It's  the  son 
now  who  owns  the  business.   And  I  don't  think  he  himself 
is  participating  in  the  business  too  much.   What's  the 
name?   Garrity  or  something?   [P.W.  Gallaher] 
GARDNER:   No,  that's  not  there. 

EPSTEIN:   They've  always  been  friendly  to  the  booksellers. 
Clark--I  call  him  young  Clark,  as  distinguishable  from  the 
father,  who  died  many  years  ago — participates  in  the  Los 
Angeles  Corral,  keeps  his  contacts  with  all  the  important 
Western  collectors  and  Western  writers.   They're  still 
publishing  books.   They  publish  a  lot  of  excellent  series. 
GARDNER:   The  next  one  is  another  person  who's  in  Glendale — 
who  I  suspect  was  fairly  minor — John  Valentine. 
EPSTEIN:   John  Valentine  actually  was  not  a  bookman  in  the 
sense  that  he  operated  a  store.   I  forget  now  who  he  backed — 
Jake  or  who.   I  think  it  was  Jake  and  he  had  quite  close 
relations.   He  made  his  money,  I  believe,  in  the  food  busi- 
ness some  way.   And  he  came  out  here,  and  his  relationship 
was  in  the  sense  that  he  backed — by  golly,  if  my  memory 
doesn't  fail  me,  it  was  Jake.   And  he  used  to  come  around 
the  bookstores,  almost  as  a  dealer--usually  not  alone,  but 
with  somebody  else.   And  I  think  he  was  a  collector  on  his 
own  for  a  while.   Whatever  happened  to  him,  I  don't  really 


GARDNER:   The  next  after  John  Valentine  was  Karl  Zamboni. 
EPSTEIN:   Karl  Zamboni  is  a  long,  long  story. 
GARDNER:   Oh,  good. 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  I  don't  know  if  I  can  remember  it  all.   It 
goes  way  back.   Karl  Zamboni  and  Phil  Brown  had  each  worked, 
I  think,  at  one  time  for  Holmes  during  the  real  bad  Depression 
days.   Later  on,  somehow  or  other  they  raised  enough  money 
to  buy  the  Abbey.   At  one  time  they  owned  the  Abbey  Book- 
shop.  There  was  somebody  else's  money,  of  course,  in  it. 
It  was  a  peculiar  mix-up  there,  and  I  never  did  get  the 
facts  totally  straight.   Jake,  I'm  sure,  was  closer  to 
the  situation  than  I  can  recollect  it.   But  at  any  rate, 
one  of  their  backers  was  a  music  writer  here  for  many,  many 
years  who  wrote  a  lot  of  fine  music  for  the  movies  (and 
I'll  be  darned  if  I  can  think  of  his  name;  if  I'm  not  mis- 
taken, it  began  with  an  A) .   [Lee  Harline]   He  died  rather 
young,  about  ten  years  ago.   Well,  this  musician  divorced 
his  wife  and  married  Zamboni 's  wife,  and  the  musician's 
wife  married  Zamboni.   They  swapped  wives,  the  backers. 
GARDNER:   [laughing]   That  was  really  before  their  time. 
It  was  very  avant-garde. 

EPSTEIN:   Yes,  well,  there  were  people  like  that  then. 
Later  on,  they  sold  out  the  business.   Zamboni  kicked 
around  the  book  business  quite  a  while.   I  think  he  worked 
for  Jake  for  a  while,  then  he  worked  for  Kovach  for  a  while. 
And  Phil  Brown — he  fooled  around  with  books,  too.   He  was 


married  to  Helen  Brown.   Helen  Brown  was  a  cookbook  writer, 
and  she  was  a  caterer  in  Pasadena  [with]  a  very  fine  repu- 
tation for  knowledge  of  cookery.   And  Phil  started  collect- 
ing cookbooks  for  her,  and  they  formed  a  fine  collection. 
And  then  Helen  wrote  a  number  of  books  which  were  published, 
and  some  of  them  got  national  recognition.   Phil  Brown  later 
went  to  work  for  Charlie  Yale  in  Pasadena.   And  when  the 
father  died--older  Charlie  Yale — the  son  Bud  took  over. 
(His  name  was  Charlie,  but  everyone  called  him  Bud.)   He 
was  working  with  Phil.   Phil  was,  I  think,  more  knowledge- 
able of  books  than  Bud  Yale  was,  so  they  worked  together 
for  quite  a  while.*   And  then  Phil  left  Charlie  Yale  and 
went  to  work  with  his  wife  in  the  catering  business.   They 
used  to  have  a  party  every  New  Year's,  and  we  attended 
several  of  them.   But  the  house  was  just  packed  with 
cookery  books — besides  other  books.   Phil  had  wide  inter- 
ests.  He  was  a  literary  person,  and  she,  too,  besides  her 
knowledge  of  cookery.   They  both  wrote.   They  wrote  a  couple 
of  things  together.   But  she  died,  unfortunately,  about  ten 
years  ago  or  so,  and  Phil  was  left  with  all  the  books  and 
with  the  business--which  I  think  he  gave  up  because  she 
was  the  one  people  hired  because  of  her  reputation  as  a 
cook.**   When  you  went  to  their  house  for  a  New  Year's  party. 

*   Actually  Phil  had  a  piece  of  the  business  because  it 
was  later  called  Yale  and  Brown  for  a  while. — [L.E.] 
**   I  find  that  Phil  is  in  the  catering  business. — [L.E.] 


you  got  some  beautiful  food.   So  that,  starting  with  Zamboni, 

brought  me  back. 

I  lost  track  of  Zamboni.   I  don't  know  where  he  is  now. 
I  mentioned  Zamboni 's  name  to  Jake  a  number  of  months  ago, 
and  he  said,  "Well,  he's  somewhere  up  north."   Zamboni  was 
a  good  bookman;  he  knew  his  books.   But  he  didn't  have  that 
strength  of  character  to  stick  with  something.   I  think  he 
was  a  moody  person,  psychological  in  some  ways,  maybe.   But 
a  nice  person.   I  do  not  mean  that  he  was  a  no-good  person. 
He  was  a  good  person.   I'm  sorry  I  can't  think  of  the  name 
of  that  musician  who  took  part  in  that  exchange.   It  begins 
with  A.   Not  Albright.   I  don't  know  his  name. 
GARDNER:   We'll  try  to  come  back  to  it. 
EPSTEIN:   I'll  crack  my  head. 

GARDNER:   A  fellow  named  John  Cole  had  a  place  in  La  Jolla 
and  was  the  only  San  Diego  person  who  was  involved  in  the 

EPSTEIN:   It  was  called  the  John  Cole  Bookstore.   He  and 
his  wife  ran  a  shop  in  La  Jolla,   It  was  a  nice  little  shop. 
They  had  half  new  books  and  half  old  books.   He  died,  un- 
fortunately, too  young.   I  think  he  worked  for  Marshall 
Field  before  he  went  into  the  service.   I'm  racking  back 
into  my  brain  the  stories  I  heard.   One  of  the  salesmen 
selling  for  Merriam-Webster ,  whose  name  may  come  up  later — 
Russell  Goodrich — and  he  were  great  friends.   They  went  in 
the  army  together,  and  I  believe  Russell  at  one  time  told 


me  that  John  had  worked  in  the  book  department  of  Marshall 
Field.   And  when  they  got  out  of  the  service,  Goodrich  and 
Cole  thought  of  opening  a  business  together,  but  they  were 
afraid  they  didn't  have  the  capital,  afraid  that  they 
couldn't  support  their  families.   Russ  had  children  who 
were  a  little  older  than  John's,  I  think;  John  may  not 
have  had  any  children  at  that  time.   At  any  rate,  they 
did  whatever  they  did  after  the  war.   Finally,  John  came 
out  here  and  opened  up  a  business  in  La  Jolla.   And  he 
did  a  nice  business.   La  Jolla,  you  know,  has  several  small 
bookstores--none  of  them  great  bookstores,  but  little  shops. 
Each  one  specializes  in  some  kind  of  thing.   I  think  his 
wife's  name  is  Margaret  [actually  Barbara].   She  was  more 
or  less  adopted  by  the  big  family,  the  main  family  there, 
the  Scrippses.   Mrs.  Scripps  sort  of  took  her  under  her 
wing  and  I  think  perhaps  might  even  have  helped  them  out. 
I  did  hear  that  the  Scripps  woman  helped  to  educate  their 
children;  they  paid  for  their  college  education  and  whatnot. 
Margaret  Cole  is  still  down  there.   John,  as  I  said,  died. 
I  used  to  see  him  once  in  a  while.   I  remember  we  were  at 
La  Jolla  one  time,  and  Russell  Goodrich,  who  was  a  Merriam- 
Webster  salesman  for  dictionaries,  happened  to  be  in  town. 
And  we  met,  and  Ann  and  I  took  them  all  to  dinner.   We 
just  happened  to  be  at  the  racquet  club  there,  the  tennis 
club — the  La  Jolla  Tennis  Club  or  whatever  they  call  it. 
We  were  surprised  that  we  got  in  because  it  was  not  too 


open  for  Jews.   V7e  heard  that  later.   But  we  walked  in, 
and  they  had  room  for  us.   And  we  had  a  very  nice  apart- 
ment, incidentally,  and  we  stayed  there  a  week. 
GARDNER:   Oh,  you  stayed  at  the  tennis  club? 
EPSTEIN:   Yes. 

GARDNER:   You  never  signed  the  register.   [laughter] 
EPSTEIN:   Oh,  I  signed  the  register.   [laughter]   So  I 
know  her  quite  well  in  the  sense  that  whenever 
I  go  there  I  visit  her,  and  whenever  she  has  a  problem, 
she  even  writes  me.   She,  too,  is  inclined  to  be  over- 
stocked.  But  she  specializes  in  everything:   sewing  things 
for  women  and  all  the  latest  fads — macrame  and  all  that. 
She  gets  the  material  and  sells  it  along  with  books.   But 
she's  horribly  overstocked  in  books.   She  doesn't  return 
what  she  should  return,  which  is  one  of  the  things  she 
asked  me  about.   I  said,  "Look,  you're  always  asking  me 
and  I'm  always  telling  you,  but  you  never  do  it.   I  see 
the  same  books  I  told  you  three  years  ago  to  return,  and 
you  didn't  do  it.   You  certainly  can't  return  them  now." 
But  apparently  she's  still  getting  by,  so  there's  no  prob- 
lem there.   But  they  were  a  nice  couple. 

GARDNER:   The  next  on  my  list  comes  to  Los  Angeles,  and  it's 
the  Abbey  Bookstore.   Of  course,  you've  talked  about  the 
Abbey  Bookstore  to  such  a  great  extent.   But  at  the  time 
of  this,  there  was  someone  named  Pinans. 
EPSTEIN:   They  had  the  Spanish  Bookstore  for  a  while.   Then 


they  got  rid  of  that  and  went  into  the  Spanish  Bookstore, 
later  moved.   Yeah.   Juan  Pinans.   He  was  a  very  nice  per- 
son.  His  wife  was  Jewish;  they  were  very  much  in  love.   I 
used  to  see  her  quite  often.   She,  I  think,  was  a  legal 
secretary,  if  I'm  not  mistaken.   And  he  ran  a  small  busi- 
ness in  Spanish  books.   There  were  certain  Spanish  things 
that  we  would  buy  from  him.   He  always  tried  to  keep  one 
or  two  Spanish  cookbooks,  which  we  would  buy  from  him  at 
wholesale.   And  there  were  a  few  other  small  items  he 
would  wholesale.   He  would  import  them,  and  it  would  be 
easier  for  us  to  buy  them  from  him  than  to  send  to  Spain 
or  wherever  he  got  them.   They  were  nice  people.   But  he 
died  about  seven,  eight  years  ago,  and  the  poor  widow, 
she  didn't  know  what  to  do  with  his  stock.   Finally  she 
sold  the  business  to  somebody  else.   She  was  really  broken- 
hearted.  I  don't  know  what  happened  to  her.   She  probably 
went  back  to  work.   She's  a  very  capable  legal  secretary; 
they're  hard  to  find. 

GARDNER:   Well,  the  next  few  on  my  list  I  think  we've  gone 
into  pretty  well.   They're  Argonaut,  and  Bennett  and  Mar- 
shall, and  John  Q.  Burch.   We  spoke  of  all  of  those.   And 
then  comes  Dale's,  which  of  course  we  talked  about.   It 
mentions  here  that  his  wife  was  also  active.   Dale's  wife, 
I  assume.   Celia  Dalinsky?   Or  is  that  not  his  wife.   Who 
is  Celia  Dalinsky? 
EPSTEIN:   Celia  Dalinsky  must  have  been  his  sister.   Harry's 


wife  actually  was  Irish. 
GARDNER:   Oh,  his  sister,  I  see. 
EPSTEIN:   Because  she  was  not  his  wife. 
GARDNER:   Oh,  I  see.   It  says,  "Harry  Dale  and  Celia 
Dalinsky,  genealogy  and  local  history."   Don't  know  her, 
huh?   Never  came  to  the  meetings? 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  I  knew  Harry's  name  had  been  Dalinsky  in 
Milwaukee  or  somewhere  he  came  from.   He  came  from  the 
Middle  West — Detroit  or  Milwaukee,  I  forget  which.   Yes, 
I  remember  that  a  sister  of  his  was  involved  in  some  way. 
But  I  don't  think  she  stayed  in  the  business  too  long. 
GARDNER:   She  just  wanted  a  membership  in  the  society? 
EPSTEIN:   Yes.   Well,  I  didn't  know  her  too  well.   I  met 

GARDNER:   Then  Dawson's,  of  course,  we  talked  about.   Then 
N.A.  Kovach.   Do  you  know  him? 

EPSTEIN:   Oh,  Nick  Kovach?   Of  course,  I  knew  Nick  Kovach. 
Nick  was  around  when  I  moved  around  to  Eighth  Street.   He 
followed  me,  I  think,  by  two  or  three  years.   He  used  to 
dabble  in  old  books.   He'd  run  across  things,  sell  them  to 
other  dealers.   He  was  a  smart  guy.   He  later  opened  a  store- 
I  forget  what  the  name  of  the  store  was.   I  wonder  if  that 
was  the  store  that  Sarah  Borden  and  Manny  Borden  bought  out? 
At  any  rate,  they  had  a  store  on  Sixth  Street  for  a  while. 
He  got  rid  of  that;  then  I  remember  he  got  into  a  partner- 
ship with.  ...   I'll  think  of  the  name.   [snaps  fingers] 


Carl  Haverlin.   And  they  opened  a  store  on  Wilshire  Boule- 
vard on  the  second  floor  of  a  little  nice  old  building 
there.   Rents  were  cheap  there.   And  they  were  going  to  have  a 
rare-book  business.   Nick  was  a  very  erratic  person  at 
that  time.   In  some  ways,  he's  erratic  still.   I  remember 
going  up  there,  buying  some  things  from  them  and  selling 
some  things  to  them.   The  partnership  didn't  work  out. 
It  ended  in  a  great  disagreement.   The  partnership  didn't 
last.   Nick  went  on  wheeling  and  dealing — wholesale,  re- 
tail, whatever.   Finally,  he  found  his  way  into  the  busi- 
ness of  old  periodicals — not  single-copy  magazines,  not 
the  old  magazine  business  in  that  sense,  but  periodicals 
of  runs,  literary  periodicals  or  technical  periodicals, 
supplying  new  libraries,  replacing  for  old  libraries.   In 
the  later  forties,  especially,  and  the  fifties,  that  be- 
came extremely  big  business,  because  there  were  a  tremen- 
dous number  of  new  libraries  opening  up  and  a  tremendous 
spread  in  research  institutions  per  se .   And  they  all  needed 
back  files  of  especially  technical  periodicals,  historical 
periodicals.   And  the  people  who  went  into  that  business  did 
quite  well.   Nick  used  to  go  around  to  libraries  and  buy 
their  duplicates  or  their  discards.   And  for  a  long  time  he 
gave  the  book  association  a  lot  of  trouble,  because  when  he 
would  go  in,  he  would  say,  "Well,  I'll  take  these,  and  I 
will  give  you  so  much  in  trade."   Well,  a  library  would 
never  be  able  to  contact  him  for  what  they  needed  in  books. 


So  they  used  to  write  letters  to  the  association.   [laughter] 


JULY  29,  1974 

GARDNER:   As  I  mentioned  when  we  left  off,  we  had  a 
couple  of  names  left  on  this  list  of  the  original  Anti- 
quarians, the  1950  list,  and  just  to  run  through  them 
and  finish  off.   We  finished  off  last  time  with  Nick 
Kovach.   Is  there  anything  else  you  want  to  say  about 

EPSTEIN:   I  believe  I  mentioned  all  the  things  that  I 
wanted  to  say  about  Nick.   Nick  became  very  successful  in 
his  way.   He's  established  a  fine  business  and  I  think 
is  pretty  happy  with  his  career--considering  that  when  I 
first  met  him,  he  was,  like  we  all  were,  pretty  sort  of 
starving  characters  in  those  days.   In  that  sense,  I  ad- 
mire his  perseverance  and  building  up  a  sort  of  a  new  busi- 
ness.  He  did  a  good  job. 

GARDNER:   The  next  one  on  the  list  that  I  have  is  Cambridge 

EPSTEIN:  The  Cambridge — Salzman  was  his  name.  He  never 
established  a  large  business,  but  his  business  has  main- 
tained him  for  all  these  many  years.  It's  still  in  exist- 
ence. He  dealt  more  with  scholarly  books,  more  literary 
things,  and  I  imagine  it's  probably  part  of  his  plan  not 
to  have  a  great  big  shop — and  just  control  his  own  working 
hours  more,  where  you  can't  in  a  big  bookshop.   And  that's 


why  I  think  some  of  these  smaller  dealers  perhaps  might 
have  been  smarter  than  the  larger  dealers  who  tie  them- 
selves down  to  a  big  business,  or  were  tied  down  with  a 
big  business  and  a  lot  of  employees.   Some  of  us  made  a 
little  more  money,  but  in  the  end,  I  think  they  got  what 
they  wanted  and  we  got  what  we  wanted.   And  there,  too, 
the  family  relationships  sometimes  are  a  deciding  factor 
in  how  far  a  person  wants  to  go  in  this  business.   People 
with  several  children  whom  they  have  to  educate  have  to 
strive  to  do  more  business,  where  a  chap  like  Salzman 
doesn't  need  it.   He  leads  the  kind  of  life  he  likes,  and 
I  think  that's  very  agreeable.   He's  a  good  bookman.   I 
shouldn't  forget  to  say  that,  because  when  one  old  bookman 
can  say  about  another  old  bookman,  "He's  a  pretty  good  book- 
man," then  he's  gotten  his  degree.   [laughter] 
GARDNER:   Next  after  that  is  Larry  Edmunds,  and  of  course 
we  talked  about  him.   We  talked  about  him,  and  we  talked 
about  the  shop,  and  we  talked  about  both  Milton  Luboviski 
and  Ida  Needham. 
EPSTEIN:   Yes. 

GARDNER:   Then  after  that  was  Lee  Freeson. 

EPSTEIN:   Lee  Freeson  is  sort  of  a  maverick--as  I  suppose 
most  bookmen  are;  otherwise  they  wouldn't  be  in  the  old-book 
business.   That's  the  place  where  mavericks,  a  great  many, 
wind  up.   It ' s  a  place  where  a  maverick  can  operate  his  own 
style,  his  own  way,  and  still  make  a  living  at  it.   This  is 


a  great  thing  about  the  old-book  business.   I  don't  think 
you  could  do  it  in  the  new-book  business  because  the  invest- 
ment, the  original  investment  to  start,  is  so  great  for  a 
new-book  business.   But  in  the  old-book  business  a  person 
can  start  with  half  a  dozen  books,  and  sell  two  of  them, 
and  go  out  and  buy  four  more,  and  in  that  way  begin  to  be- 
come general  or  specialized,  whichever  he  wants. 

But  Lee  is  an  odd  character.   It's  very  difficult  to 
describe  him.   I  can  describe  him  only  as  he  relates  to 
the  book  business.   He  built  up  a  very  interesting  facet  of 
it.   Unlike  Milton,  [who  handled]  the  movies  and  some  theater, 
he  specialized  solely  in  the  theater  and  some  books  relating  to 
theater:   fashion  as  it  relates  to  theater,  and  costume,  all 
the  related  areas — dance.   His  wife  Margo — or  common-law  wife, 
maybe — was  a  dancer,  an  excellent  dancer.*   But  she  was  very 
political,  and  if  she  didn't  like  the  audience  in  front  of  her, 
she'd  walk  off  the  stage.   And  poor  Lee  would  go  with  her  and 
have  to  suffer  through  all  that.   By  that  I  don't  mean  to  in- 
dicate that  this  Margo  was  in  any  way  unappreciated,  but  if 
she  thought  her  audience  wasn't  worth  the  struggle  that 
she  was  putting  through,  why,  she  would  just  walk  off  the 
stage.   And,  of  course,  it  hurt  her  career  immensely. 

Lee  suffered  terribly  during  the  difficult  days  be- 
cause there  was  no  market  for  the  type  of  thing  he  had  to 

'   Do  not  confuse  this  Margo  with  the  actress  Margo  who  is 
married  to  Eddie  Albert--both  of  whom  were  customers  of 
ours. — [L.E. ] 


offer  at  that  time,  and  she  was  having  a  very  difficult 
time.   She  was,  as  I  say,  political,  extreme  left,  and 
probably  Communist  party.   And  I'm  not  saying  so  to  hurt 
Lee  in  any  sense — his  reputation.   But  I  think  that  both 
were  extreme  left — at  least,  if  not  party  members.   I  have 
no  way  of  knowing  positively,  but  I  do  know  that  they  both 
were  extreme  left.   That,  of  course,  is  not  the  point  of 
our  conversation — politics.   But  he  did  build  up  an  en- 
viable reputation.   The  main  thing  in  my  eyes  is  not  that 
he  built  up  money  or  more  money.   I  don't  know  whether  Lee 
has  any  money.   But  he  built  up  an  enviable  reputation  as 
an  authority  in  his  field — looked  upon  with  a  great  deal  of 
respect  for  the  knowledge  he  has.   And  he  and  I,  being  more 
or  less  neighbors,  and  knowing  him  from  way  back  in 
the  old  days  downtown,  we  always  had  an  informally  close 
relationship — not  that  we  visited  back  and  forth  but  we  were 
always  glad  to  see  each  other  in  spite  of  our  differences  of 
opinion  on  many,  many  things.   I  used  to  fight  with  him  like 
anything  about  his  politics.   But  still  I  respected  the  man, 
and  it  happened  to  be  my  lot  to  have  to  help  him  out  on  many 
occasions  when  he  needed  a  few  bucks,  either  for  a  business 
deal  or  to  get  by  on  for  a  month  or  two.   And  he  always  came 
back — sometimes  a  year  or  two  late,  sometimes  I  had  to  press 
a  little  bit,  but  those  were  the  way  things  were.   I  just 
met  him  a  couple  of  weeks  ago,  and  we  had  quite  a  talk  and 
reminisced  a  little  bit.   He's  the  exact  age  that  I  am.   His 


main  fear  now--it's  not  a  fear,  it's  a  knowledge  that  he's 
going  to  have  to  quit  within  two  years,  five  years,  eight 
years,  and  there's  no  way  he  can  transmit  his  knowledge  to 
anyone  else.   It  was  always  a  one-man  operation.   And  when 
he  dies,  it's  going  to  die  with  him.   He  always  operated 
individually,  never  employed  anybody.   He  told  me  of  many 
letters  he  received  from  universities  asking  him  to  come 
and  lecture  to  them.   Of  course  he  wouldn't  do  that  about 
the  theater,  but  theater  bibliography.   And  he's  not  a 
scientific  bibliographer,  by  any  means,  but  he  has  all 
this  knowledge  about  the  important  books  just  because  of 
specializing  in  one  narrow  field.   Of  course,  the  theater 
is  not  as  narrow  as,  say,  shells.   I  don't  know,  maybe  it's 
narrower;  I  have  no  idea. 

GARDNER:   And  he's  going  to  carry  this  with  him  to  his  grave? 
EPSTEIN:   Right.   That's  the  unfortunate  thing  about  so  many 
booksellers:   they  develop  over  the  years  a  knowledge,  a 
specialized  knowledge,  a  specialized  memory;  and  if  they're 
very  independent,  they  usually  work  alone  or  pretty  close 
to  alone.   They  might  hire  a  secretary  or  so,  but  that's 
not  a  book  person.   They  don't  train  anybody.   And  probably 
they  haven't  the  patience  to  train  anybody.   Not  that  they're 
secretive;  they  just  don't  want  to  work  with  anyone.   They're 
loners;  they  want  to  work  alone.   That's  their  choice.   And 
unfortunately  a  great  deal  of  knowledge,  research,  is  lost. 
It  goes  back  into  limbo.   Somebody' 11  have  to  rediscover  it 


again  years  later.   And  he  never  issued  catalogs  particu- 
larly.  Very  often  a  dealer,  a  specialized  person,  will 
spill  a  lot  of  bibliographical  knowledge  in  his  catalogs, 
little  points  that  he  himself  has  discovered  while  perus- 
ing a  book.   I  have  two  books,  exactly  the  same  book,  on 
my  shelf,  and  every  catalog  says  that  they're  both  first 
editions,  that  this  is  the  first  edition.   On  examining 
them,  I  can  point  to  you  several  different  differences, 
where  type  has  been  broken--in  one  issue,  perfect  type, 
and  the  other  issue,  broken — and  the  brightness  of  the 
plates.   But  by  the  bibliographical  standards,  they're 
both  alike.   They're  not  alike.   One  of  them  must  have 
come  out  years  before  the  other. 
GARDNER:   VThat  is  the  book? 

EPSTEIN:   It's  not  an  important  first  edition;  it's  rather 
common.   But  nobody  makes  any  distinction.   And  there  are 
many  areas,  if  somebody  would  go  through  it.  .  .  .   I  made 
a  few  notes  on  it,  which  were  so  apparent  that  even  I  could 
recognize  them  without  looking  for  them.   I  didn't  have  any 
reason  to  go  through  that  book.   To  Have  and  to  Hold,  by 
Mary  Johnson.   It's  not  a  rare  book  in  any  sense,  and  it's 
an  important  book  as  a  good  historical  novel.   But  these 
are  the  kinds  of  things  that  one  discovers  by  chance.   And 
these  become  of  bibliographical  importance. 

To  go  back  to  Lee,  he  has  an  exceptionally  good  spe- 
cialized knowledge.   He  was  just  almost  in  tears  telling 


me  about  the  fact  that  he  has  no  way  of  putting  it  all 
down.   People  have  asked  him  to  write  a  book,  and  he  said, 
"Louis,  how  can  I  sit  down  and  write  a  book?   I  can't  sit 
still  long  enough  to  finish  a  meal."   He's  that  kind  of  a 
person.   And  he's  having  a  problem  with  Margo.   She  has 
arthritis  very  badly,  and  sometimes  she  can't  get  out  of 
bed.   He  has  to  take  care  of  her.   But  that's  another  issue. 
That  is  the  story  of  Lee.   He  is  not  always  a  likable  char- 
acter, not  always  a  totally  dependable  character,  but  by 
and  large  he  did  something. 

GARDNER:   The  next  on  the  list  is  Larson's  and  I  think  we 
talked  about  Larson. 

EPSTEIN:   Yes,  I  think  we  mentioned  Larson.   He  had  his 
shop  on  Hollywood  Boulevard  west  of  Western,  first  block 
west  of  Western.   He's  an  odd  person,  and  he  went  into  meta- 
physics a  lot.   He  loved  his  cats  and  his  coffee,  and  he 
just  sat  there.   And  I  think  probably  one  of  the  reasons 
he  died  at  an  early  age,  he  probably  wasn't  active  enough 
physically--which  is  hard  to  say  about  a  bookman.   I  could 
never  be  inactive  physically  when  I  was  in  the  old-book  busi- 
ness, or  even  the  new-book  business.   I  moved  around.   But 
he  developed  a  metaphysical  business,  I  think  from  the  ground 
up.   I  don't  think  he  had  any  original  knowledge  of  it.   And 
he  just,  little  by  little,  from  what  the  people  asked  for, 
he  learned  to  sell,  and  he  learned  the  values  by  knowing 
what  he  could  get,  how  high  he  could  push  the  price  up. 


And  of  course  that  makes  value:   how  much  is  a  customer 
willing  to  pay  for  a  rare  book?   Not  all  his  things  were 
rare,  but  they  were  good  secondhand  things.   It  was  not 
a  used-book  shop  in  the  classic  sense,  where  they  had  a 
good  variety  of  stock  in  many  subjects.   It  was  run  pretty 
messy.   And  his  widow  [Louise  Larson]  ran  it  for  several 
years.   I  was  much  surprised  that  she  was  able  to  carry  it 
on,  but  she  kept  plugging  at  it.   You  had  to  admire  her. 
She  used  to  come  to  see  me  quite  often  and  buy  things  from 
us  occasionally.   We  would  buy  from  her  occasionally,  and 
she  had  great  respect  for  me.   She  would  ask  me  questions 
on  what  she  should  do  as  a  matter  of  policy,  or  her  busi- 
ness, and  I  always  tried  to  be  very  helpful.   And  she  ap- 
preciated that.   I  think  the  book  people  thought  that  I 
had  a  great  deal  more  wisdom  than  I  really  have.   [laughter] 
GARDNER:   After  that  one,  I  have  Dr.  Kurt  Melander. 
EPSTEIN:   Dr.  Kurt  Melander.   He  was  a  refugee.   He's  still 
around,  although  I  haven't  seen  him  in  a  number  of  years. 
A  refugee  from  Germany,  I  think  he  went  to  South  America 
before  he  came  to  North  America,  the  United  States.   And  he 
learned  the  Spanish  language  there.   Or  he  may  even  have 
lived  in  Spain;  I  don't  know.   My  impression  is  that  he  may 
have  told  me  this:   that  he  went  to  South  America  when  they 
had  to  run  into  whatever  corridor  was  open.   At  any  rate,  he 
learned  Spanish  fairly  well.   And  having  a  doctorate  to  begin 
with  and  a  well-rounded  backgroiond  of  knowledge,  he  began 


to  work  with  Spanish  books.   There  was  a  field  in  which 
the  dealers  here  knew  little  about,  he  knew  something  about. 
And  he  began  to  pick  up  whatever  Spanish  things  there  were 
aroiond,  and  visited  libraries,  and  built  up  a  small  busi- 
ness, which  maintained  him,  of  selling  Spanish  books.   And 
he  would  buy  also  English  books,  too,  but  primarily  he  went 
in  for  Spanish  literature,  which  he  would  sell  to  libraries — 
catalog,  or  by  letter — and  maintained  himself  not  badly. 
He's  a  very  nice,  quiet  person.   He  paid  me  a  very  fine 
compliment  on  the  last  occasion  I  saw  him.   I  bumped  into 
him  at  the  Pickwick,  oh,  just  before  I  retired.   And  we  got 
to  talking.   When  we  had  old  books  he  was  there  at  least 
once  or  twice  a  week.   And  we  got  to  talking  about  a  number 
of  things  and  the  fact  that  we  had  known  each  other  for  at 
least  twenty-some-odd  years,  and  he  paid  me  a  compliment. 
He  said,  "You  know,  I  watched  you  progress  from  way  back 
in  a  small  bookstore  to  a  business  far  beyond  what  you 
probably  yourself  had  ever  anticipated,  and  the  way  you 
ran  it  and  the  success  of  it."   He  said  he  always  had 
great  admiration  for  me  in  the  way  I  treated  him  and  the 
way  I  maintained  my  business,  and  he  said  he  wanted  to 
tell  me  that.   And  two  days  later  I  got  a  little  card  from 
him  saying  how  much  he  enjoyed  knowing  me.   I  think  he  works 
out  somewhere  in  the  Valley  now.   I  remember  one  time  I 
visited  him  in  North  Orange  Grove.   [tape  stopped] 
GARDNER:   Okay,  is  that  it  on  him?   Well,  Pickwick  is 


next,  and  I  think  we've  talked  about  Pickwick.   Then 
comes  F.N.  Bassett.   Do  you  know  F.N.  Bassett? 
EPSTEIN:   V7ell,  Bassett  was  what  I  would  call  a  spe- 
cialist dealer,  and  his  specialty  was  nature  books,  in 
a  very  narrow  field.   There  again  is  an  illustration  of 
what  a  person  can  do.   At  one  time  it  was  as  a  hobby.   I 
don't  know  what  his  profession  was,  whether  he  was  a  teach- 
er or  what,  but  he  just  decided  that  he  would  expand  on  it 
and  make  it  his  business.   And  he  did.   I  didn't  know  too 
much  about  him  personally.   We  used  to  sell  him  things  in 
his  field  from  the  old-book  department.   Whenever  we'd 
get  something,  he'd  buy  from  us.   And  there  again,  with 
every  specialist  with  whom  we  came  into  contact,  we  learned 
something  from  them.   I  always  did,  and  I  think  that's 
where  I  picked  up  the  knowledge  in  these  various  fields 
that  a  general  bookman  carries  around  with  him. 
GARDNER:   Roman  Novins  is  next. 

EPSTEIN:   Roman  Novins:   he  had  a  small,  a  very  small  busi- 
ness, but  he  dropped  out  of  it  after  about  two  or  three  years. 
A  very  nice  person.   I  don't  know  too  much  about  him.   He 
did,  one  day,  bring  me  two  framed  pictures  of  Pickwick  char- 
acters--the  characters  out  of  [The]  Pickwick  [Papers] — and 
I  still  have  'em.   And  I  said,  "I'll  buy  these  from  you." 
"No,"  he  said,  "I  want  you  to  have  them;  this  is  with  my 
compliments."   That's  the  kind  of  a  guy  he  was.   A  very 
nice  guy.   But  there  must  have  been  some  little  bit  of 


money  behind  the  family,  because  the  way  they  were 
living  certainly  was  not  from  any  thing  he  could  make 
as  a  beginner  in  the  book  business.   His  wife  may  have 
had  inherited  money,  or--I  don't  know.   But  he  didn't 
last  too  long  in  it. 

GARDNER:   Then  next  we  have  Mel  Royer,  whom  we  talked  about. 
EPSTEIN:   Yes,  we  talked  about  Mel. 

GARDNER:   And  Zeitlin  and  Ver  Brugge,  which  we  talked  about 
at  length. 

EPSTEIN:   Did  I  mention  about  Mel  that  the  Japanese  came  and 
bought  all  his  entire  stock? 
GARDNER:   No,  I  don't  think  so. 

EPSTEIN:   Yes.   You  know,  I  think  maybe  we  ought  to  mention 
that.   It's  an  interesting  episode,  and  it's  historical. 
Mel,  you  know,  had  been  not  too  well  in  the  last  number 
of  years.   Mel  must  be  close  to  eighty  now,  if  he  isn't 
past  eighty,  because  when  I  was  a  beginner,  I  looked  upon 
him  as  a  mature  person — me  being  all  of  twenty-four,  begin- 
ning in  Los  Angeles.   And  he  was  a  customer;  and,  as  I 
mentioned  before,  he  already  was  established  with  a  firm — 
I  think  in  the  accounting  department,  or  whatever.   And 
the  last  number  of  years,  he  had  been  trying  to  sell  his 
business,  because  it  became  more  and  more  difficult  for 
him  to  operate  it.   He  had  one  possible  sale,  where  he 
actually  went  to  take  inventory;  and  for  one  reason  or 
another,  the  sale  fell  through.   I  don't  believe  the 


people  who  were  wanting  to  buy  it  had  any  idea  that  the 
inventory  would  run  to  that  amount  of  money.   And  we  in 
the  trade  heard  about  it.   Even  though  I  wasn't  in  the 
trade  at  the  time,  I  still  maintained  my  contacts,  you 
might  say.   Then  one  day  I  heard  that  Mel  sold  his  entire 
stock--lock,  stock,  and  barrel — to  a  Japanese  group  who 
came  over,  and  came  in,  and  packed  everything  that  was  in 
the  shop--every  scrap  of  paper,  everything.   Someday  I'm 
going  to  run  across  Mel  and  get  the  background  of  it,  be- 
cause it's  a  very  unusual  type  of  deal.   They  just  packed 
up  everything  and  shipped  it  to  Japan.   Now  whether  they 
were  Japanese  dealers,  or  whether  it  was  the  Japanese 
government,  or  to  give  to  a  university,  or  whatever,  I 
don't  know.   But  that's  what  happened  to  Mel's  stock.   It's 
probably  somewhere  in  Japan,  maybe  the  University  of  Osaka, 
or  somewhere  like  that.   Eventually  it'll  have  to  wind  up 
in  a  university.   It  was  too  varied  and  too  large  for  an 
individual,  unless  somebody  makes  an  American  art-book 
store  out  of  it. 

GARDNER:   Well,  it's  possible,  in  Tokyo.   Also,  we  talked 
about  Phil  Brown,  and  we  talked  about  the  Yales.   I  think 
perhaps  now  we  could  insert  something  about  the  founding 
of  the  organization,  how  it  happened  to  come  together,  and 
your  own  participation  in  it. 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  like  so  many  organizations,  difficulties 
come  up  which  affect  all  of  us,  everyone  in  the  trade. 


It  was  founded  because  there  was  a  need.   The  need  was 
created  by  some  problem  that  came  up.   And  we  were  having 
problems  with  two  things:   the  main  problem  we  were  hav- 
ing was  that  from  time  to  time  there  would  be — I  wouldn't 
say  police  harassment  but  the  police  would  discover  that 
somebody  had  stolen  a  book  somewhere  and  sold  it  to  a 
dealer.   Were  we  not  bound  by  the  same  laws  as  secondhand- 
furniture  dealers,  or  pawn  shops,  or  things  like  that?   Now 
this  goes  back;  the  same  things  come  up  from  the  earliest 
days.   Most  of  the  time  we  were  always  able  to  beat  the 
police  back,  in  the  sense  that,  "Look,  this  is  an  isolated 
instance.   You  never  have  any  trouble  with  us,  and  we  police 
ourselves  to  a  certain  degree.   There  might  be  some  of  us 
who  would  buy  books  which  he  knew  might  have  been  stolen. 
But  for  the  most  part,  none  of  us  are  looking  for  trouble." 
And  the  second  thing,  the  other  thing,  is  that  whenever 
anyone  discovered  a  book  in  a  used-book  shop  which  had 
been  stolen  from  somebody,  they  were  always  given  that 
book  back,  or  they  were  given  it  back  for  the  price  that 
the  dealer  paid.   This  was  a  haphazard  arrangement,  but 
it  worked,  in  my  opinion,  much  better  than  rules  and  regu- 
lations by  the  policemen  had  worked.   It  caused  less  harm 
and  less  fuss.   [lawnmower  noise;  tape  stopped]   So  with 
all  this  trouble  we  were  having  from  time  to  time,  there 
was  one  particular  period  where  they  really  started  getting 
tough.   [tape  stopped]   There's  one  spot  there  where  they 


really  became  tough  with  us,  and  they  passed  a  very  strict 
law  that  we  must  report  every  book  we  buy  and  have  to  get 
the  signature  and  identification  of  the  seller,  whether 
it's  one  book  or  a  thousand  books,  whether  we  bought  it 
in  the  store  or  we  bought  it  at  the  person's  home.   This 
was  almost  an  impossible  task.   If  you  bought  a  library 
of  several  hundred  books,  you'd  have  to  hire  a  person  to 
catalog  them. 

So  we  got  around,  and  we  organized  a  group  of  us,  and 
we  said,  "Look,  we've  got  to  have  a  group  that'll  get  to- 
gether, and  maybe  hire  an  attorney,  and  fight  this  thing." 
[tape  stopped]   So  we  did  just  that,  and  that's  the  way 
our  organization  was  born,  or  revived.   The  people  who 
were  looked  upon  in  those  days  in  the  trade  were  Jake, 
Louis  Epstein,  Dawsons ,  Charlie  Yale.   Holmes  never  partic- 
ipated in  anything,  although  he  probably  was  one  of  the 
largest  dealers  here.   And  [with]  many  of  the  smaller  ones 
around  the  city,  we  got  together  and  organized  this  group. 
That's  the  way  it  was.   And  we  took  turns  being  the  presi- 
dent of  it.   We  used  to  meet  informally.   Well,  like  all 
these  drives,  the  thing  finally  quieted  down.   We  tried  to 
hire  an  attorney  to  fight  city  hall,  but  attorneys  who 
fight  city  hall  are  extremely  expensive.   We  spent  about 
$500  in  cash,  which  was  a  lot  of  money  for  our  group,  but 
he  did  us  very  little  good.   I  think  our  own  conduct  prob- 
ably helped  us  more  than  whatever  the  attorney  did.   We  got 


the  law  modified  a  little  bit.   The  law  is  probably  still 
on  the  books,  but  it's  never  been  enforced.   [tape  stopped] 
GARDNER:   Well,  my  next  question  would  be  your  own  involve- 
ment.  You  were  one  of  the  first  presidents,  if  not  the 

EPSTEIN:   Yes,  I  was  one  of  the  first.   I  think  Charlie 
Yale,  if  I'm  not  mistaken,  was  the  first.   There  isn't 
much  to  say,  you  know,  about  being  president  of  that.   It 
was  a  small  group;  we  did  what  we  had  to  do.   Most  of  our 
meetings  we  discussed  a  minimum  of  business  and  a  maximum 
of  gossip.   Booksellers  are  a  notoriously  gossipy  group. 
They  can't  keep  a  secret — in  no  way.   Almost  every  year 
we  had  a  dinner.   And  our  meetings  were  held  at  our  homes, 
as  a  rule.   I  think  we  had  several  meetings  up  at  the  other 
house  on  North  Curson. 

After  one  of  the  meetings--I  may  have  mentioned,  in 
speaking  about  Harry  Lawyer--word  got  around  (he  later 
threw  it  up  to  me)  that  I  lived  in  a  mansion.   That's  the 
North  Curson  house.   It's  far  from  that. 

But  [it  was]  a  very  loose  organization.   We  really 
didn't  have  too  many  problems  to  settle.   I  think  what  it 
eventually  evolved  into,  when  they  got  into  the  national 
group,  the  AABA--they  became  more  exclusive.   We  would  take 
anyone  in  the  trade  who  wanted  to  join.   As  a  matter  of  fact, 
we  dug  them  out  to  have  them  join  us.   The  present  group, 
which  is  part  of  the  international — they  have  certain 


standards.   You  have  had  to  be  in  the  business  x  number 
of  years. 

GARDNER:   Is  that  so? 

EPSTEIN:   I  don't  know  what  their  standards  are  now, 
but  they  vote  you  in  or  out.   You  have  to  be  of  good 
character.   We  never  questioned  a  guy's  character, 

GARDNER:   From  some  of  the  stories  you've  told  me,  that 
would  have  limited  the  membership  quite  a  bit.   [laughter] 
EPSTEIN:   If  anyone  had  any  reason  to  blackball  you,  which 
I  think  is  totally  illegal  in  the  trade  organization — I'm 
not  necessarily  going  to  express  my  opinion.   This  is 
quite  a  different  organization  now.   I  think  it  only  has 
those  who  are  specialists  and  real  rare-book  dealers.   I 
don't  think  it  has  the  total  number  of  people,  of  used-book 
sellers,  in  the  area  in  proportion  to  the  total  nxomber  of 
booksellers  there  were.   We  had  a  greater  proportion  of 
the  members  of  the  booksellers  than  the  proportion  they 
have  now.   But  I  think  the  present  group  intentionally 
wants  it  to  be  so.   But  the  chap  who  has  just  an  average 
secondhand-book  store — I  don't  really  think  they  want 
him  in  the  organization.   Which,  I  think,  is  a  mistake, 
because  two  things  happen:   There's  a  certain  amount  of 
contact  that's  lost  between  the  two,  and  the  one  who  has 
what  I  term  an  ordinary  used-book  store — that  is,  not  be- 
ing a  specialty  shop;  the  chap  who  buys  and  sells  almost 


any  kind  of  book--he  has  less  chance  to  learn  from  the 
other  people  if  he  doesn't  belong  to  their  group.   Dis- 
cussion always  takes  place  at  every  meeting,  informally. 
They  ask  each  other  questions,  and  they  hear  of  a  book  that 
somebody  said  was  rare.   I  didn't  know  it  was  rare,  and  I 
immediately  perked  up  my  ear.   And  I  learned  that  that  was 
a  rare  book  instead  of  a  common  book,  or  it  was  worth  x 
number  of  dollars  instead  of  two,  three  dollars.   And  that 
is  a  means  of  learning  the  book  business,  the  constant 
mingling  of  these  people  in  the  trade. 

This  is  an  aside  from  your  question.   They  have  so 
many  tools  now  of  learning  values  which  we  never  had  in 
our  day.   They  have  more  active  reporting  in  the  trade 
papers,  where  they  give  you  resxames  of  auction  sales. 
And  they  have  something  new  that's  come  up  within  the 
last  eight,  ten  years.   It's  a  set  of  books;  the  compiler 
of  it  goes  through  all  the  catalogs  issued  by  dealers. 
When  I  say  all  of  them,  I'm  positive  it  can't  possibly  be 
all,  but  a  great  many  catalogs  issued  by  various  dealers 
across  the  country.   And  he  gathers  that  information,  and 
they  list  it  in  those  books.   And  from  time  to  time,  they 
bring  them  up  to  date.   Now,  a  lot  of  that  information  is 
published  regularly,  has  been,  in  American  Book  Prices 
Current,  over  the  years.   But  the  American  Book  Prices 
Current  did  not  list  as  many  books  as  individual  catalogers 
did.   The  American  Book  Prices  Current  only  listed  those  for 


auction.   So  they  have  a  tool  of  knowledge  for  getting  the 
values  quickly. 

GARDNER:   What  is  that?   What  is  that  book? 
EPSTEIN:   I  don't  exactly  know  the  name  of  it,  but  I  think 
your  library  probably  has  it. 
GARDNER:   Oh,  I'm  sure,  yes. 

EPSTEIN:   And  you  might  get  it,  or  you  might  call  one  of 
the  dealers  and  stop  in  and  look  at  it.   I've  never  used 
it;  I've  never  looked  into  it.   But  I  know  that  it  exists. 
I've  seen  advertisements  for  it,  and  I've  seen  it  on  some 
dealers'  shelves.   So  in  that  respect,  their  knowledge 
about  values  is  greater.   But  the  harmful  thing  is  that 
a  house  that  issues  a  catalog  is  usually  aimed  at  the 
library  market,  and  the  library  market  will  pay  more  for 
things  that  they  want  than  the  average  person  walking  in 
off  the  street.   So  I  found  this  to  be  true,  and  I  will 
go  into  some  used-book  stores,  on  some  days  when  I  run 
across  them,  and  do  a  little  browsing.   They  all  will 
have  those  books  marked  up  at  the  highest  possible  value. 
And  they  sit  there,  month  after  month  after  month.   And 
if  you  question  them  about  it:   "Oh,  well,  that's  what  it 
has  to  bring  in  the "--whatever  the  name  of  the  book  is — the 
trade  prices.   And  I  think  in  that  respect,  it  lessens  the 
turnover  of  stock  for  the  merchant.   The  person  who  doesn't 
issue  catalogs  is  riding  on  the  back  of  those  who  do  issue 
catalogs.   But  I  think  they're  making  a  mistake.   I  think 


they  should  maybe  price  them  proportionately,  but  not 

Anyway,  my  reasons  for  questioning  the  wisdom  of 
not  allowing  all  the  booksellers  in  or  asking  them  to 
join:   I  question  that  as  being  totally  good  for  the  book 
trade.   It  may  be  good  for  some  of  those  participants  who 
are  rare-book  dealers.   They  get  together  and  do  the  same 
things  we  used  to  do — talk  about  books,  and  bring  in  a 
person  who's  knowledgeable  of  books  who'd  occasionally 
give  us  a  lecture,  in  addition  to  having  our  business 
meeting.   I  think  they  should  try  to  teach  more  people, 
rather  than  restrict  the  numbers  they  can  teach  or  trade 
with.   In  my  way  of  thinking  it  has  a  certain  amount  of 
selfishness  put  into  it.   They  have  control  of  the  organi- 
zation, and  they  do  good  things.   They  encourage  business 
from  librarians,  because  librarians  are  their  chief  cus- 
tomers now — it  wasn't  so  in  the  early  days.   Libraries 
didn't  have  as  much  money,  and  there  weren't  as  many  of 
them.   Especially  college  libraries.   And  the  rare-book 
libraries — a  lot  of  them  have  been  established  over  the 
years  by  foundations.   The  college  libraries,  university 
libraries,  and  foundations  are  probably  the  chief  buyers 
of  rare  books.   And  they're  very  thoroughly  cultivated  by 
the  rare-book  dealers — which  is  proper.   Every  other  in- 
dustry tries  to  cultivate  relationships  with  their  customers 
to  increase  business. 


At  any  rate,  the  organization  just  kept  on.   It  would 
quiet  down.   Then  something  else  would  come  up,  and  we'd 
get  excited  and  boom  up  again.   It  had  its  ups  and  downs. 
But  it  was  a  great  place  to  have  a  little  fun,  do  a  little 
bit  of  drinking.   At  our  annual  dinners,  a  lot  of  the  boys 
would  like  to  show  off  their  prosperity.   It  was  a  nice 
group.   And  practically  every  person  we  mentioned  of  the 
old-timers  has  been  a  president  of  it  at  one  time  or  another. 
GARDNER:   It  had  a  turnover? 

EPSTEIN:   Yes,  we  encouraged  the  turnover,  because  the  amount 
of  actual  business  we  transacted  for  the  organization  was 
minimal.   We  paid  our  dues,  and  we  had  a  little  fun.   And 
a  problem  would  come  up.   It  was  usually  the  president's 
job — at  least  when  I  was  president— to  settle  differences 
between  dealers:   transactions  where  one  felt  that  he 
wasn't  being  paid,  or  paid  on  time,  or  had  been  taken 
advantage  of  by  someone  else.   A  couple  of  dealers,  I 
had  a  great  deal  of  correspondence  with  libraries  about: 
they  felt  that  the  libraries  were  promised  certain  deliver- 
ies of  books  which  never  came  through.   But  that's  the 
nature  of  people,  and  they're  in  the  book  business,  same 
as  everywhere  else. 

GARDNER:   When  did  your  own  participation  end? 
EPSTEIN:   Frankly,  I  made  one  serious  error:   I  dropped 
out  of  the  organization  when  we  went  out  of  the  old-book 
business.   But  my  participation,  before  that  even,  wasn't 


active  participation.   I  would  go  to  the  dinners,  but  I 
rarely  attended  the  other  meetings.   My  lack  of  partici- 
pation increased  as  my  new-book  business  increased--and 
demands  on  my  time,  too.   I  dropped  out,  and  I  remember 
Glen  Dawson  calling  me  and  saying,  "Why  did  you  drop  out, 
Louis?   We  need  you  in  the  organization."   I  said  I  felt 
that  I  was  no  longer  of  any  use  because  I  was  no  longer 
in  the  old-book  business.   Well,  he  was  right;  I  should 
not  have  dropped  out.   And  as  a  matter  of  fact,  after  I 
retired,  I  asked  to  be  reinstated--which  I  was,  but  only 
on  one  of  the  rare  exceptions.   I  think  I'm  the  only  one 
in  the  whole  country  who  is  not  an  active  dealer  who  was 
reinstated  after  having  dropped  out.   There  would  have 
been  no  question  of  my  continuing  to  be  a  member  had  I 
retired  from  the  old-book  business. 
GARDNER:   Because  of  your  longevity. 

EPSTEIN:   But  here  I  dropped  out  before  my  career  was 
ended  in  the  book  business.   And  I  wrote  them.   I  said, 
"You  can't  do  that  to  me ;  I'm  one  of  the  founding  members." 
So  they  made  the  exception,  and  now  I'm  an  associate  mem- 
ber.  I  don't  have  any  voting  rights,  but  I  can  go  to  their 
organizational  meeting.   And  I've  attended  a  few  meetings. 
But  in  thinking  back,  I  realize  that  Glen  was  right.   I 
should  not  have  dropped  out  because  I'd  been  such  an  active 
participant  in  it.   But  now  everybody's  happy  I'm  back  in. 
GARDNER:   Even  though  you  can't  vote.   One  of  the  big 


activities  of  the  local  chapter  is  the  book  fairs.   Do 
you  participate  in  this? 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  the  book  fairs  are  relatively  recent, 
you  know.   They  didn't  have  those  in  our  day. 
GARDNER:   Oh,  I  see. 

EPSTEIN:   Fairs  of  all  kinds  have  become  more  common. 
They  have  these  international  book  fairs  now  for  rare-book 
dealers,  and  I  think  from  that  the  idea  evolved  that  we 
should  have  one  in  the  city.   They  now  have  them  in  New 
York;  they  have  them  in  London;  they  had  one  in  Toronto, 
Canada,  just  early  this  spring,  I  think,  or  sometime  this 
spring.   So  this  is  relatively  new,  I  think--what,  seven, 
eight  years? 

GARDNER:   Oh,  is  that  all  it  is? 

EPSTEIN:   Maybe  a  couple  of  more  years.   And  they've  been 
successful.   They're  planning  one,  I  think,  for  sometime 
in  October. 

GARDNER:   One  of  the  early  activities  when  you  were  there 
was  an  auction.   Do  you  recall  that  auction  at  all? 
EPSTEIN:   I  don't  recall  any  auction.   Oh,  yes,  yes.   It 
was  after  my  time — where  each  bookseller  brought  in  some- 
thing to  raise  a  few  dollars  for  the  organization.   Yes. 
I  did  not  participate  in  that,  because  by  that  time,  I 
was  out  of  the  picture. 

GARDNER:   There  are  just  a  few  minutes  on  the  tape,  so  to 
wrap  it  up  I'll  just  ask  you  about  some  of  the  people  who 


are  in  it  now  who  weren't  before,  and  who  we  haven't 
discussed.   Cherokee  is  one  that  I'd  like  to  talk  about 
because  it's  one  of  your  neighbors. 

EPSTEIN:   Cherokee  is  Jack  Blum,  of  course.   Incidentally, 
the  Cherokee  is  where  Lee  Freeson  makes  his  headquarters. 
I  don't  know  if  he  still  has,  but  he  had  a  little  bit  of 
an  office  there,  and  he  kept  a  little  bit  of  a  stock  there. 
But  Jack  Blum  started  in,  oh,  I  would  say  in  the  fifties, 
with  a  little  shop  on  Cherokee  Avenue  just  south  of  Holly- 
wood Boulevard.   And  he  was  specializing  in  Hollywood 
material — pictures  of  stars  and  anything  related  to  the 
movies  and  movie  magazines  and  whatnot.   There's  always 
a  market  for  these  movie  collectors.   I  never  did  fully 
understand,  and  I  don't  to  this  day.   I  can't  see  that 
many  of  them  being  scholars  and  why  they  want  these  pic- 
tures, but  for  one  reason  or  another,  they  do.   Jack  stuck 
with  it  and  learned  more  and  more.   He  finally  had  to  give 
up  his  store  on  Cherokee,  and  he  moved  over  to  Hollywood 
Boulevard.   He  now  has  a  very  well  established  business. 
His  sons  are  now  taking  over.   And  he  has  gone  into  the 
business  with  variety,  enlarged  the  scope  of  his  business. 
He  has  a  lot  of  very  fine  sets.   His  sons  started  in  with 
the  comic-book  business,  and  they  developed  that  and  a 
lot  of  other  areas.   He  operates  a  little  bit  differently 
than  any  other  bookseller  I  know  of,  where  he  gives  each 
one  of  his  people  a  certain  specialty  that  they  develop. 


And  now  he  has  [Clark]  Casey  in  the  Americana  department; 
and  he  has  his  sons,  as  I  say,  in  the  movie  business 
and  one  in  the  other  business;  and  he  himself  takes  care 
of  sets  and  things  like  that.   All  his  buying  has  always 
been  done  for  him  by  his  employees.   He  himself  has  sat 
in  the  back  of  the  picture.   But  it  apparently  worked  out 
quite  successfully;  he  seems  to  be  doing  well.   Jack  is 
a  very  nice  person.   I  say  that  because  I've  involved  him 
in  other  things  where  only  a  nice  person  would  be  involved 

GARDNER:   Such  as? 

EPSTEIN:   Like  the  United  Jewish  Welfare  Fund.   Even  in  the 
days  when  things  weren't  very  good  with  him,  he  always 
managed  to  make  a  contribution.   I  could  mention  some 
names  of  other  Jewish  booksellers,  and  I  hope  that  the 
record  doesn't  indicate  that  I'm  overinvolved  with  Jewish 
affairs  because  I  think  Jewish  affairs  need  some  intense 
involvement  since  the  Hitler  days,  and  they're  still  going 
on  in  the  state  of  Israel  today.   And  I  always  felt  that 
it  was  my  duty  as  a  Jew--I  always  felt  that  it  was  the 
same  duty  of  the  other  people  who  were  Jews — and  I  tried 
to  involve  the  Jewish  booksellers  in  addition  to  many  other 
people,  and  I'm  happy  to  say  I  was  very  successful. 


JULY  29,  1974 

GARDNER:   You  want  to  finish  the  sentence? 
EPSTEIN:   As  I  say,  I  was  happy  to  say  I  was  successful 
in  involving  some--and  totally  unsuccessful  in  involving 
some  other — Jewish  booksellers  (whom  I  will  not  name) . 
I'm  particularly  proud  of  the  fact--and  I  think  this 
should  not  be  taken  amiss  by  anybody  if  they  happen  to 
hear  what  I'm  saying--that  I  was  able  to  originally  get 
contributions,  say,  from  a  chap  like  Jake  Zeitlin,  when 
he  was  not  as  affluent  as  he  is  today.   Now  his  contribu- 
tions run  into  sizable  sums.   Also  Jack  Blum,  when  he  was 
having  a  very  difficult  time,  he  gave  me  at  least  some- 
thing, to  at  least  express  his  involvement,  his  duties, 
his  duty  as  a  person  of  a  particular  group  that  needed 
help.   My  feeling  about  it  has  always  been,  "Look,  I  am 
part  of  that  group.   I  don't  care  where  I  live,  and  I 
don't  care  what  I  do .   If  I  were  in  the  circumstances  they 
were  in  and  it  was  only  because  they  were  of  that  group 
that  they  were  attacked,  I  might  have  been  attacked — and 
undoubtedly  would  have  been  attacked.   And  I  might  have 
suffered  the  fate  that  the  others  have  suffered,  so  it's 
a  part  of  my  duty  to  help  those  to  escape  who  could  escape, 
and  to  help  them  get  a  foothold  somewhere  where  they  can 
earn  their  own  existence  and  become  persons  again."   But 


some  people  don't  want  to  be  involved  in  anything--which 
applies  to  local  charities  and  local  civic  affairs,  too. 
One  does  not  exclude  the  other.   It  happens  to  be  the 
lot  of  the  Jewish  group  in  our  comiriunity  to  be  involved 
in  both.   You  do  not — by  no  means — neglect  the  local 
affairs,  local  charities.   I  contribute  to  them,  too,  and 
I  think  everyone  who  contributes  to  the  welfare  organiza- 
tions I'm  talking  about  is  the  same  type  of  person  who 
will  contribute  to  all  charities,  all  kinds  of  organiza- 
tions that  need  help  in  doing  a  worthwhile  task.   It's 
my  philosophy.   I  don't  know  whether  it's  because  of  it; 
maybe  that  would  help  create  me,  help  create  my  outlook 
on  life  that  attracted  the  people  to  my  place  of  business. 
I  don't  know.   I  have  theories  about  it--they're  surmises; 
I  would  call  them  theories.   And,  you  know,  "bread  upon 
the  waters"  sort  of  thing,  but  not  exactly  in  that  phrase. 
We  gave  away  a  lot  of  money,  and  we're  still  giving  away 
a  lot  of  money,  but  there  seems  to  be  money  coming  back 
to  us.   And  we  had  to  struggle  to  get  it;  and  if  we  didn't 
have  it,  obviously,  we  wouldn't  have  given  so  much  away. 
But  I'm  very  thankful  I  was  able  to  involve  people,  to 
convince  them,  to  show  them  that  this  is  the  right  thing 
for  them  to  do. 

Take  a  man  like  Milton  Luboviski.   He's  of  Jewish  back- 
ground— raised  perhaps.   It  might  have  even  been  an  Ortho- 
dox Jewish  family;  I  don't  know  that  much  about  his  family 


background.   But  from  the  first  time,  Milton--his  original 
contribution  was  sort  of  an  offhand  thing:   "Okay,  Louis. 
You  asked  me  for  it;  I'll  give  it  to  you."   I  said,  "Milton, 
don't  give  me  a  nickel.   I  don't  need  it.   But  I  want  you 
to  feel  that  you're  giving  something  to  help  somebody  who 
cannot  help  himself  simply  because  he  is  part  of  our  group-- 
your  group  and  my  group."   If  it  was  a  Catholic  group  who 
was  being  persecuted,  or  as  the  Armenians  were  by  the  Turks. 
Well,  the  Armenians  lost  a  million  and  a  half  people.   For 
no  reason.   And  over  the  years,  he  got  the  idea  better,  and 
his  contribution  now  is  not  a  great  deal  of  money,  but  it's 
meaningful.   And  what's  more  important  to  me  is  it's  a 
contribution  with  something  behind  it,  not  just  something 
for  Louis  Epstein  because  I  asked  for  it.   And  by  the  same 
token,  some  of  the  contributions  I  originally  got  simply 
because  I^  asked  for  it.   I'm  sure  that  if  somebody  else 
had  come  in.  .  .  .   They  knew  me;  they  had  a  certain  re- 
spect for  me,  which  enabled  me  to  talk  to  them.   I  had  a 
personal  basis  on  which  to  talk  to  them  that  perhaps  no- 
body else  could  talk  to  them  on.   Like  Milton,  for  instance — 
I'm  almost  positive  that  had  somebody  else  gone  to  see 
Milton  that  first  time,  I  don't  think  they  would  have 
gotten  it. 

This  is  totally  aside  from  the  book  business,  but 
it's  an  aside  to  show  that  book  dealers  should  be — and 
are,  some  of  them — in  activities  which  are  beyond  the  book 


business  itself.   And  I'm  sure  if  you  talk  to  Jake  or 
some  of  the  others,  they  will  find  areas  in  which  they 
participate.   Jake  does  a  lot  of  things  for  libraries. 
Well,  I  do  a  few  things  for  libraries,  too.   Politically, 
Jake  is  involved.   Well,  I  am  involved  politically,  too. 
The  reason  I  mention  Jake  so  often  is  because  I  think  Jake 
is  a  very  broad-minded  person  and  a  very  significant  per- 
son, with  whom  I've  been  associated  so  many  years,  and 
whom  I  respect  so  much.   I  use  him  as  an  example,  too, 
of  how  a  man  has  climbed  way  above  his  adversities  at 
the  beginning,  both  his  family  adversities  and  his  finan- 
cial adversities.   And  I  think  in  that  respect,  I  have  a 
certain  judgment  of  Jake  which  is  perhaps  beyond  that  of 
others  in  the  trade  whom  I  might  mention--which  I  certainly 
won't.   He's  a  bigger  man.   I  don't  know  how  to  put  it. 
His  reputation  should  be  much  greater  beyond  that  of  his 
reputation  in  the  book  trade  alone.   And  I  think  it  is. 
I  think  he  has  been  involved.   I  think  Glen  Dawson  is  de- 
serving of  a  great  deal  of  credit,  because  beyond  his 
participation  in  everything  pertaining  to  the  book  busi- 
ness, he's  also  involved  with  many  things:   involved  in 
church,  involved  with  libraries,  involved  in  many  things 
pertaining  to  the  reading  and  spreading  of  knowledge.   A 
good  churchman.   And  he  raises  a  nice  family,  participates, 
and  he  does  other  things  which  are  not  particularly  related 
to  books  which  are  worthwhile.   I  think  somewhere  along  the 


line,  of  course,  [the  fact  of]  this  being  a  story  of  books 
should  not  preclude  people  being  cited  for  things  other 
than  their  particular  business. 

GARDNER:   Well,  the  other  one  that's  on  the  new  list  that 
wasn't  on  the  old  is  Heritage  Book  Shop. 

EPSTEIN:   Heritage,  I  know  very  little  of  their  background. 
They  opened  in  the  same  block  as  the  Pickwick,  and  I  went 
in  to  see  them--a  couple  of  very  bright  youngsters,  the 
Weinstein  brothers  [Louis  and  Ben].   And  apparently  they've 
learned  their  business  very  well,  and  they're,  from  what  I 
hear,  extremely  successful.   I  don't  know  how  they  started, 
where  their  finances  came  from,  but  to  me  it  appears  that 
they  must  have  brought  a  great  deal  of  finances  into  the 
book  business  when  they  came  in  because  of  the  rapidity 
of  their  growth  in  certain  areas  which  involved  a  lot  of 
money.   In  my  mind  that  is  beyond  the  capability  of  what 
they  might  have  earned  in  the  relatively  short  time  they 
were  in  business.   Now,  I'm  not  saying  that  in  any  critical 
sense  whatever.   That's  my  opinion.   Someone  else  may  know 
more  about  them  than  I . 

GARDNER:   How  long  have  they  been  at  it? 
EPSTEIN:   Well,  let's  see,  two,  four,  six  .  .  .  they've 
been  on  the  Boulevard  close  to  about  eight  years  now,  I 
think.   Maybe  a  trifle  longer.   Time  just  telescopes  with 
me.   But  I  really  do  know  very  little  about  them.   There's 
another  brother  who  has  a  bookstore  in  Hollywood.   Book  City, 


I  think,  is  owned  by  Jerry  Weinstein,  who's  a  brother. 
And  I  understand  there's  a  brother  in  Long  Beach  who  has 
a  bookstore,  used  books.   The  brother  from  Long  Beach  now 
runs  The  Book  Treasury  of  6707  Hollywood  Boulevard--the 
former  location  of  Heritage.   So  they're  very  much  inte- 
grated in  the  book  business.   [tape  stopped] 

You  ask  me  about  Theodore  Front.   He  is  in  the  [busi- 
ness of]  books  about  music.   He  used  to  come  to  the  Pick- 
wick to  buy  books  on  music  or  whatever  other  things  he 
might  need,  and  he  was  more  or  less  of  a  collector.   And 
then  he  decided  he  would  like  to  go  into  the  thing  full 
time.   As  a  collector,  he  probably  sold  things  now  and 
again.   And  he  came  to  me  and  said  what  did  I  think  of 
him  going  into  the  music-book  business?   I  knew  him  as  a 
man  who  knew  music  books.   And  I  said,  "I  think  it's  a 
very  good  field."   He  said,  well,  he'd  been  doing  a  little 
business  in  his  home,  in  the  off-hours  and  all  that,  but 
he  wanted  to  quit  whatever  he  was  doing  and  go  in  full 
time.   And  I  said,  "If  you've  got  the  idea,  you'll  even- 
tually worry  yourself  all  about  it  for  a  long  time.   And 
I  think  you  can  make  a  go  of  it.   There  are  a  few  people 
in  the  country  who  are  doing  it,  and  the  market  for  music 
in  Southern  California  is  tremendous.   You  know  your  books 
and  you  know  your  business.   Go  ahead."   Sure  enough.   "Well," 
he  said,  "by  golly,  I  think  now  that  you've  said  these  things 
to  me,  you've  pointed  out  the  areas  in  which  I  could  serve." 


I  mean,  it  was  a  general  discussion,  a  little  bit  of 
general  ideas  how  to  go  about  it.   He  knew  a  lot  about 
it  already--where  to  buy  music,  where  to  sell  music  he 
bought,  and  he  knew  all  the  music  people  so  the  doors 
would  be  open  to  him.   I  said,  "I'm  sure  you  could  make 
it."   And  I  understand  he's  doing  quite  nicely. 

I  see  they  have  a  member  here  on  the  list  by  the 
name  of  Marian  L.  Gore.   "Cookery,  wine,  hotels,  inns, 
coffee,  tea,  gardening,  herbs,  mushrooms."   Marian  Gore, 
Mrs.  Gore,  was  an  old  customer  of  ours.   Her  husband  had 
a  graphics  business  in  Hollywood  on  Santa  Monica  Boulevard. 
And  the  family  were  customers  of  ours.   One  day  we  heard 
that  there  was  a  divorce  coming  up.   They  were  separated. 
And  it  eventually  happened.   And  Mrs.  Gore  kept  coming  in, 
and  he  kept  coming  in,  too.   We  got  two  accounts  instead 
of  one.   But  then  she  told  me  she  wanted  to  start  into 
the  book  business.   She  wanted  to  open  a  new-book  store. 
And  I  talked  her  out  of  it.   For  two  reasons:   she  told 
me  the  amount  of  money  she  would  have  available,  and  I 
didn't  think  that  was  enough  to  start  a  store,  and  it 
would  be  risking  all  that  she  had,  which  was  a  risk  that 
was  too  great  for  her  to  take.   And  she  had  no  particular 
background  in  running  a  business,  either — let  alone  r\anning 
a  bookstore  business.   And  I  explained  it  to  her.   I  told 
her  how  much  she  would  have  to  have  for  initial  stock  and 


how  much  rent  she  would  have  to  pay.   We  sat  down,  and  we 
went  over  the  skeletal  figures.   And  she  decided  it  was 
not  for  her.   Well,  it  was  my  surprise  that  a  few  years 
later,  I  found  out  that  she  went  into  this  old-book  busi- 
ness.  She  moved  to  San  Gabriel  and  went  into  this  busi- 
ness little  by  little,  and  apparently  picked  up  these  books 
and  sold  them  to  people  she  knew  who  were  interested  in 
the  subject,  and  gradually  built  up--I  don't  think  it's 
a  big  business  but  it's  enough  of  a  business,  apparently, 
to  help  earn  her  living.   It  may  support  her  entirely;  I 
don't  know.   I  bumped  into  her  at  a  Friends  of  the  UCLA 
Library  dinner.   And  that  was  the  first  I  had  heard  of  it. 
And  she  said  she'd  issued  catalogs.   I  said,  "Well,  why 
didn't  you  send  me  some?"   She  said  she'd  send  them  to 
me.   A  very  interesting  catalog.   So  now,  occasionally, 
I  pick  up  something  in  her  field  and  I'll  write  to  her 
about  it.   But  there  again,  it  proves  the  theory  that  if 
a  person  has  a  specialized  knowledge  or  special  interest, 
he  can  gradually  build  a  book  business  into  it.   Mrs.  Gore 
again  proves  that  case. 

Doris  Harris  Autographs:   she  was  president  of  the 
group  for  a  while.   I  don't  know  her  too  well,  but  she 
seems  to  be  a  very  capable  person. 

And  [G.F.]  Hollingsworth,  who  is  a  Western  Americana 
dealer  in  Manhattan  Beach,  is  an  excellent  bookman.   We 
used  to  sell  him  a  lot  when  we  had  old  books.   He  used  to 


buy  a  lot  of  remainders  from  us  and  keep  them  a  year  or 
two  until  the  remainder  supply  would  be  exhausted,  and 
then  he  would  put  them  in  his  catalog  at  close  to  the 
original  price — which  is  a  common  practice.   I'm  not  tak- 
ing away  from  his  reputation.   It's  a  common  practice,  and 
I  think  it's  a  worthwhile  practice  because  he  saves  a  cer- 
tain number  of  books  for  collectors  who'll  come  later  and 
want  the  book.   And  many  remainders  in  later  years  become 
quite  scarce.   A  remainder  sometimes  is  an  excellent  book  of 
which  there  weren't  enough  buyers  for  the  original  edition. 
It  has  nothing  to  do  with  the  quality  of  the  book.   And  very 
often  when  the  supply  is  gone,  they  become  extremely  scarce. 
I  myself  have  paid  three  times  the  price  of  what  I  could 
have  bought  it  as  a  remainder  at. 

The  International  Bookfinders  is  Dick  Mohr — Richard 
Mohr.   There  again  is  an  example  of  a  person  who  is  in  one 
kind  of  a  business  and  built  up  a  sideline  which  eventually 
proved  greater  than  his  original  business.   He  was  in  the 
advertising  business  in  some  area.   And  he  went  into  a 
search  service  operation,  but  he  advertised  his  services 
in  certain  areas  which  brought  him  a  lot  of  excellent  ac- 
counts.  And  now  he's  really  a  very  knowledgeable  bookman 
and  apparently  does  a  very  fine  business.   His  wife  is  in- 
volved; his  son  was  involved  until  he  went  off  to  college. 
And  I  think  that's  his  principal  business  now.   I  think  he's 
doing  extremely  well. 


There  are  a  number  of  people  on  the  list  now,  on 
the  list  of  members  here,  who  I  know  very  little  about, 
or  absolutely  nothing.   I  don't  know  Carolyn  Kaplan;  I 
may  have  met  her.   I  don't  know  Caler  publications;  I  don't 
know  [Laurence]  McGilvery.   We  talked  about  Kurt  Schwarz, 
and  I  think  we've  covered  all  the  old-book  men  about  whom 
I  can  have  any  knowledge,  about  whom  I  have  any  knowledge. 
GARDNER:   The  next  section,  then,  that  we'll  cover  will 
be  the  different  bookmen,  the  book  salesmen  who've  come 
in  and  out  of  Pickwick. 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  they  now  like  to  be  called  book  publisher's 

GARDNER:   Publisher's  representatives,  okay. 

EPSTEIN:   They  feel  they're  one  cut  above  the  drummer.   The 
new-book  business,  of  course,  has  no  relation  to  the  old- 
book  business.   But  in  the  new-book  business,  a  publisher's 
representative  or  salesman — whatever  you  wish  to  call  him — 
is  a  very  important  person.   At  least,  they  were  to  me.   They 
bring  you  news  of  the  new  books  of  their  own  particular  field, 
their  own  particular  house;  and  then  they  bring  you  what's 
happening  in  the  industry,  which  way  the  trends  of  books 
are  going,  which  publishers  are  having  good  seasons  or  bad. 
They  talk  about  more — not  more  about  other  people's  lines 
than  their  own,  but  they  constantly  have  to  bring  you  news 
to  compare  what  they're  selling  with  what  the  house  is 
selling — why  their  book  of  fiction  is  a  better  book  of 


fiction  than,  say,  Doubleday's.   And  then,  especially  the 
major  houses  like  Random  House;  Doubleday;  Little,  Brown; 
Houghton  Mifflin;  Macmillan;  Morrow;  and  McKay,  now--they 
had  varying  degrees  of  successes  from  season  to  season. 
Each  year  they're  competitive  for  the  bookseller's  dollar. 
And  they  have  to  tell  you  why  we  have  to  buy  their  books 
rather  than  their  competitor's  books;  so,  in  a  degree,  they 
have  to  know  what  their  competitor  is  doing.   And  they  pro- 
vide us  with  a  great  deal  of  knowledge,  and  we  have  to  learn 
how  to  accept  that  knowledge--which  salesman's  judgment  to 
respect,  and  which  house's  judgment  to  respect.   Viking  is 
a  house  that  requires  a  lot  of  attention.   [So  is]  Knopf. 

So  we  had  to  learn  to  listen  to  the  salesmen,  to  read 
the  salesmen,  you  might  say.   We'd  have  to  know  which  one 
puffs  more  than  the  other,  which  one  is  likely  to  exaggerate, 
which  one  is  carried  away  by  what  his  sales  manager  told 
him  or  what  his  editors  told  him.   And  over  the  years  you 
get  to  know  them.   You  get  to  know  which  are  the  men  whose 
information  is  totally  reliable.   And  that  depends,  of 
course,  a  great  deal  on  the  house  he's  working  for.   Is 
the  house  totally  reliable  in  giving  honest  information? 
Rather  than  some  houses,  who  we  know  are  always  puffing 
1,000  percent.   There  are  houses  that  do  that.   They  don't 
know  how  to  judge  their  own  product.   Everything  they  pro- 
duce is  going  to  be  the  best  seller,  and  they  expect  us  to 
buy  accordingly — which,  of  course,  we  can't  and  we  don't.   So 


in  this  respect,  the  salesman  is  a  great  teacher.   To  me, 
they  were  tremendous  teachers,  because  I  had  never  bought 
new  books.   I  had  never  worked  in  old  books  until  I  started 
the  store.   Then  I  had  to  start  over  again  to  learn  another 
new  business,  really.   The  two  businesses  are  very  much 
unlike,  although  I  would  tell  everyone  starting  in — if  they 
asked  me,  that  is--that  if  they  spent  two  or  three  years  in 
the  old-book  business  and  then  went  into  the  new-book  busi- 
ness, they  would  have  a  much  broader  scope  of  the  new-book 
business,  because  in  the  old-book  business  we  handled  a 
broader  scope  of  knowledge.   We're  not  confined  to  those 
things  that  come  out  today,  with  a  minimum  of  classic 
material  that  every  new-book  store  handles. 

At  any  rate,  to  me  at  least,  the  book  publisher's 
representatives  were  extremely  important  because  of  my 
ignorance  to  begin  with  and  the  scope  of  knowledge  that 
they  brought  to  me.   And  there  were  some  outstanding  men 
who  were  in  the  field  when  I  started  who  had  almost  national 
reputations  as  knowledgeable  and  excellent  salesmen.   There 
were  two  or  three  of  them  who  were  extremely  beneficial  for 
me  to  know  and  for  me  to  have  been  called  on  by  them. 

One  of  them,,  particularly,  was  one  of  the  men  whom 
I  knew  before  I  went  into  the  old-book  business,  James 
D.  Blake.   He  represented  Harper's.   The  first  time  I 
ever  saw  his  books,  I  had  to  go  to  the  hotel.   In  the  old 


days  (this  was  in  the  1920s  and  before) ,  the  book  sales- 
man would  bring  a  trunkful  of  books,  take  them  to  the 
hotel,  and  invite  his  clients  to  come  up  to  a  series  of 
appointments.   And  then  they  would  show  them  the  books 
and  tell  them  what  there  is.   Of  course,  that  is  not  be- 
ing done  now.   And  I  remember  one  time,  even  before  I 
bought  new  books  particularly  to  any  extent,  I  was  in- 
vited to  his  suite.   And  I,  first  time,  saw  a  publisher's 
layout.   I  knew  him  before  we  opened  in  Hollywood,  but 
when  we  opened  in  Hollywood  and  began  to  buy  a  few  new 
books,  he  would  call  on  us,  sell  us  a  few.   Then  when  we 
announced  that  we  had  to  go  into  the  new-book  field,  and 
were  going  to  really  put  in  a  stock  of  new  books,  then  he 
said,  "Louis,  I  have  to  spend  a  whole  day  with  you  going 
over  the  Harper  line."   In  those  days  Harper  had  a  very 
big  line,  probably  larger  than  they  have  today — of  classics 
and  basic  books  on  many,  many  subjects.   I  think  their  list 
is  much  more  narrow  today  than  it  was  then.   I  said,  "Jim, 
I  don't  need  a  whole  day  of  your  time."   I  said,  "I'm  not 
going  to  buy  that  many  books."   He  said,  "I  know  you're  not 
going  to  buy  that  many  books.   But  if  you're  going  to  start 
buying  new  books,  you  have  to  be  knowledgeable  of  what  is 
available,  and  Harper  is  one  of  the  broadest  lists  in  the 
business."   And  then  he  named  two  or  three  other  publishers; 
he  said  that  "you  must  become  acquainted  with  their  whole 
list."   I  said,  "Okay."   I  mean,  he  was  a  good  deal  older 


than  I  was,  and  I  respected  him.   And  he  said,  "Well, 
I'll  come  in,  and  we'll  break  for  lunch,  and  then.  ..." 
And  sure  enough,  he  came  in,  and  he  went  over  every  book 
on  the  Harper  list,  whether  it  was  relevant  to  my  busi- 
ness or  not.   He  said,  "I'm  going  to  tell  you  about  every 
one  of  these  books  in  the  list. "   And  he  went  down  every 
book  in  the  Harper  list,  and  the  catalog  was  about  an  inch 
and  a  quarter  thick.   Well,  he  had  my  mind  reeling  in  many 
areas.   But  there  were  certain  books  about  which  he  said, 
"Louis,  now  this  book  you've  got  to  have."   He  didn't  try 
to  sell  me  everything--by  no  means.   But  he  said,  "I  want 
you  to  know  they're  available  in  case  somebody  asks  you 
for  them."   He  said,  "Let  it  sink  in  a  little  bit."   And 
it  was  a  great  thing.   And  all  that  little  bit  of  sinking 
in,  somewhere  in  your  consciousness  you  became  aware  of  it. 
I  think  a  bookman's  mind  is  either  trained  for  that  or  in- 
herited for  that.   And  if  he's  got  that,  he's  really  got 
something.   And  at  that  time,  my  mind  was  much  more  accurate 
than  it  is  now. 

But  we  went  over  every  book.   And  there  were  certain 
books  he'd  tell  me,  "You've  got  to  have  this.   You'll  sell 
this."   And  occasionally  we  would  come  across  a  book,  and 
he  said,  "Louis,  this  book  you'll  never  sell,  but  you've 
got  to  carry  it  in  your  store."   "Why?   Jim,  why  would  I 
need  a  book  that  I  won't  sell?"   He  said,  "It'll  make  your 
store  stand  out.   People  will  be  impressed  with  it."   And  he 


said,  "You'll  sell  one  occasionally.   You'll  sell  enough 
in  a  year.   You  may  sell  only  one  in  a  year,  but  then  you 
may  be  discouraged  about  handling  it."   And  for  those  days, 
it  would  be  a  rather  high-priced  book.   And  by  golly,  he 
was  absolutely  right.   He  had  an  uncanny  knowledge;  he 
had  specialized  knowledge  of  every  book  in  the  store. 
There  was  a  book  on  music  of  some  kind;  I  forget  the 
title  of  it.   [There  were]  two  or  three  of  them  that 
he  picked  out--a  book  of  English  grammar.   There  are 
thousands  of  English  grammars  for  less  money  than  he 
had,  but  his  grammar  was  a  particularly  good  one.   It 
was  much  more  expensive  than  the  others,  but  it  was  a 
book.  .  .  .    And  he  taught  me  that  a  bookstore  must  be 
broad  in  scope.   I  say,  "He  taught  me."   He  encouraged  me 
to  follow  the  principle.   In  the  old-book  business,  in  the 
general  old-book  store,  you  learn  that  the  broader  the 
scope,  the  better  the  business,  you  see.   And  he  pressed 
irie,  impressed  on  me,  that  it  applies  also  to  the  new-book 
business.   And  I  think  those  little  things  helped  me.   He 
went  on  and  sold  me  for  years,  and  he  would  guide  me  through 
a  catalog.   Occasionally  he  would  say,  "Now,  Louis,  this  is 
a  good  book,  but  I'm  not  sure  you  can  sell  it."   Well,  we 
compromised.   The  minute  he  told  me  it  was  a  good  book, 
from  what  he  had  told  me  previously  in  that  first  lecture 
day — let's  call  it  that--that  if  he  said  this  was  a  good 
book,  somebody's  going  to  want  it.   And  I  adopted  a 


principle,  consciously  or  unconsciously  in  those  days, 
[that]  if  there  was  a  chance  of  selling  a  copy  of  a 
book,  of  a  good  book,  I  would  buy  it,  figuring  that 
somebody  in  Hollywood,  somebody  in  our  community  would 
hear  of  it  and  would  want  it.   Maybe  it  would  be  a 
feather  in  our  cap  if  we  had  it.   And  maybe  our  competi- 
tion didn't  have  it.   And  it  turned  out  thousands  of  times, 
literally  thousands  of  times  where  we  were  the  only  ones 
in  Southern  California  who  ordered  that  particular  book. 
And  we  would  get  a  call  from  someone,  and  they'd  say, 
"Well,  I'm  looking  for  this  book.   Nobody  has  it."   "Well," 
I'd  say,  "we  have  it,  and  next  time  you  start  asking  us 
first."   "Oh,  you've  taught  me."   We  tied  in  a  customer 
that  way. 

But  to  go  back  to  the  men  themselves,  there  were  a 
number  of  salesmen  who  were  that  knowledgeable  of  what 
they  were  selling.   I  must  criticize  the  modern,  the  younger 
book  representatives — and  in  that  respect,  I  think,  the  house 
they  represent  should  be  criticized,  perhaps,  rather  than 
they — because  there  is  no  longer  that  emphasis  on  the  back- 
list.   By  backlist,  I  hope  you  know  what  I'm  talking  about. 
For  anyone  listening--if  anyone  listens-- [laughter]  the 
backlist  means  those  books  that  were  published  anywhere 
from  last  year  to  a  hundred  years  ago,  and  the  publisher's 
still  carrying  that  book,  maybe  in  revised  editions. 


The  younger  men  never  try  to  sell  you  backlists.   They  don't 
know  their  backlists;  they're  not  the  least  bit  interested 
in  even  taking  an  order  for  backlist  stock.   Once  a  year, 
maybe,  their  house  will  give  them  a  list  of  some  of  their 
back  stock  and  ask  them  to  take  orders  for  it  on  a  special 

Jim  Blake  is  one  of  the  men — of  course,  he's  gone  a 
great  many  years  now — of  whom  I  have  a  great  and  fond 
memory  as  a  person  and  as  a  teacher.   I  can  mention  a  few 
others.   Louis  Freedman,  who  at  that  time  represented 
Macmillan.   There's  another  big  house.   Macmillan  had  an 
entirely  different  policy.   But  they,  too,  had  a  tremen- 
dous backlist.   Louis  knew  his  backlist.   We  didn't  go 
over  the  backlist  as  extensively  with  Louis  Freedman  as 
I  did  with  Jim  Blake.   But  every  time  he  came  in,  we  took 
a  portion  of  it.   Macmillan,  at  that  time,  when  Louis  was 
there,  had  the  good  fortune,  or  the  planning,  or  the  books, 
or  the  titles,  or  the  ability  to  create  a  best  seller  every 
season.   (By  season  I  mean  the  fall  and  Christmas  season.) 
Every  season  [they  were]  bringing  out  a  best  seller,  pro- 
moting it  in  such  a  way.   The  book  was  usually  of  very 
high  quality,  and  they  would  either  have  the  best  seller 
or  very  close  to  the  top  of  it.   Now,  Louis  would  come 
in  with  the  book  that  they  had  for  that  fall  (fiction  as 
a  rule;  they  had  one  major  fiction,  one  nonfiction) ,  a 


fiction  book,  would  come  in  and  say,  addressing  me,  "I 
want  you  to  buy  a  hundred  copies  of  the  book."   I'd  say, 
"Are  you  out  of  your  mind?   A  hundred  copies  of  the  book 
for  me?   With  the  volume  of  business  I  do?"   "You  will 
sell  every  one  of  them."   "Well,"  I  said,  "Louis,  I've 
heard  that  story  from  a  lot  of  salesmen."   "Well,"  he  said, 
"I'm  telling  you."   He  said,  "If  you  don't  sell  them,  I'll 
take  them  back."   Well,  in  those  days  the  return  policies 
were  not  as  liberal  as  they  are  today.   Now  practically 
everything  is  returned.   In  those  days,  they  didn't  allow 
you  to  return  very  many.   Maybe  some  publishers  had  a 
policy,  a  certain  proportion  of  value  of  what  you  bought 
for  the  season  or  the  year.   And  they  used  to  allow  maybe 
5  percent,  which  was  nothing  if  you  got  stuck  with  a  big 
buy.   He  said,  "If  you  don't  sell  them,  I  will  take  them 
back."   Well,  75  percent  of  the  time,  he  was  right.   We 
sold  them.   We  didn't  sell  a  whole  fifty  or  a  hundred, 
but  whatever  he  sold  us,  the  carryover  past  the  Christmas 
season--if  it  was  a  good  book  it  would  carry  on  till  the 
spring--would  usually  take  care  of  that.   He  was  accused 
of  being  a  hard-sell  man,  and  in  some  ways  he  was.   But  if 
you  learned  to  read  him,  and  fought  back  in  certain  areas, 
you  got  along  with  him.   But  he  was  very  knowledgeable, 
and  he  could  dissect  a  book  and  tell  you  why  it  will  sell. 
And  he  had  ideas  of  selling.   He  is  still  active,  but  he 
doesn't  make  many  calls  himself.   He  has  three  or  four 


people  working  under  him,  but  he's  going  to  retire,  I 
think,  at  the  end  of  this  year  or  next  year.   He  rep- 
resented the  Cambridge  University  Press  after  he  left 
Macmillan.   He  left  Macmillan  and  went  to  work  for 
other — Macmillan  came  in  with  a  new  group  of  executives; 
it  separated  from  the  British  company.   Macmillan  of 
America  is  not  related  to  the  Macmillan  of  England  any- 
more.  So  he  went  and  he  represented  other  publishers — 
which  were  totally  unlike  Macmillan,  but  he  did  a  good 
job  with  them.   We're  very  good  personal  friends.   When- 
ever we  get  together,  we  have  dinner  together;  we  visit 
back  and  forth. 

There  were  several  whom  I  will  mention.   Harrison 
Leusler--his  nickname  was  "the  sheriff  of  Petaluma."   I 
heard  the  story  once,  but  I've  forgotten  how  he  started 
being  called  the  sheriff.   I  think  he  adopted  western 
clothes,  so  his  eastern  counterparts  named  him.   He,  again, 
was  a  totally  different  kind  of  salesman  than  the  others, 
but  still  extremely  knowledgeable  of  every  book  on  the 
Houghton  Mifflin  list.   But  he  had  one  fault:   he  got 
carried  away  by  his  own  enthusiasm  for  every  Houghton 
Mifflin  book  that  they  ever  put  out.   It  was  the  best  book; 
it's  going  to  be  the  best  seller;  it's  going  to  be  the  big- 
gest book.   And  until  you  learned  how  to  fight  back,  how  to 
resist  his  pressures,  you  would  have  a  little  bit  of  trouble. 
Once  I  learned  to  read  him,  we  got  along  beautifully.   Oh, 


we  would  have  almost  fistfights,  but  we  were  good  friends. 
He  would  come  in,  and  he  would  sit  there  and  give  you  the 
story  of  every  book.   He  was  one  of  the  few  that  read  every 
book  on  his  list  for  that  season.   And  he  would  give  you 
the  whole  story  of  it.   You  had  to  be  patient,  just  sit 
there  and  listen  patiently,  but  he  had  an  honor  about  him. 
If  you  wavered  on  the  line,  and  he  wanted  to  sell  you 
twenty-five  or  fifty  or  a  hundred,  then  you  could  maybe 
make  a  bargain  with  him--and  will  he  pay  the  freight  back 
if  they  don't  sell?   Which  he  very  often  did.   But  he  was 
a  very  honorable  person,  and  he  did  a  good  job.   But  until 
you  learned  how  to  take  him,  he  would  be  inclined  to  be 
domineering.   But  once  you  sat  down  and  cooled  him  down, 
you  got  to  know  him.   In  every  other  way  he  was  the  finest 
gentleman.   His  word  was  100  percent.   If  he  told  you  that 
he  would  take  them  back,  he  would  take  them  no  questions 
asked.   Or  if  you  pointed  out  to  him  that  he  misled  you 
about  something,  he  would  make  it  right.   And  occasionally, 
he  would  unwittingly  say  something  which  might  have  misled 
you.   Of  the  three  I  spoke  of,  Harrison  is  gone,  and  Jim 
Blake  is  gone. 

Carl  Smalley  was  a  Kansan  converted  into  a  bookman  who 
was  a  very  unusual  character.   He  had  a  voice  like  a  foghorn. 
And  when  he  laughed  you  could  hear  him  a  mile  away  [makes 
noise  like  foghorn].   He  was  a  very  fine  man.   He  had  a  great 
appreciation  for  books,  and  he  knew  books.   But  he  represented 


a  lot  of  very  small  publishers.   He  had  one  major  pub- 
lisher:  he  had  Dutton  for  a  while.   Oh,  he  would  come 
in  with  about  fifteen  small  publishers,  university  presses, 
who  had  five  books,  six  books,  or  eight  books,  or  whatever. 
And  he  had  lines  that  nobody  else  would  take.   But  usually 
they  would  publish  good  books.   And  over  the  years  he  built 
up  a  business  which  was  remarkable  in  the  sense  that  he 
carried  these  lines  which  nobody  else  wanted  to  take  and 
built  them  up.   They  became  better  publishers  and  became 
more  knowledgeable  publishers--especially  the  university 
presses.   Some  of  them  became  quite  professional  at  it. 
One  of  them,  the  University  of  Oklahoma,  which  he  had, 
was  one  of  the  most  efficient  presses  of  any  publisher-- 
university  press  or  other--in  the  whole  country.   I've  al- 
ways admired  their  way  of  doing  business.   They  publish  a 
lot  of  western  books.   And  we  used  to  sell  a  lot  of  them. 
We  were  their  best  account  on  the  West  Coast.   And  it  was 
because  of  the  way  Carl  presented  the  line  to  me.   I  had  a 
certain  interest,  and  I  felt  that  our  people  would  buy  a 
certain  number  of  them.   [tape  stopped] 

Now,  to  continue  about  the  publisher's  representatives 
or  publisher's  salesmen.   Ray  Healy  was  one  of  the  earliest 
salesmen  to  call  on  me.   As  a  matter  of  fact,  he  was  amongst 
the  first  group,  that  first  year  we  decided  to  see  salesmen. 
A  very  fine  Irishman,  very  religious.   He  taught  me  a  great 
deal  about  the  book  business.   At  that  time,  he  had  the 


Modern  Library,  and  he  had  Random  House,  and  I  think  he 
had  Simon  and  Schuster,  too.   He  had  a  lot  of  very  good 
lines  for  those  days.   And  we  did  a  tremendous  amount  of 
business  together,  became  very  good  friends--and  had  our 
usual  fights,  just  proving  my  theory  that  if  you  fight 
with  a  man  long  enough,  you  will  become  very  good  friends. 
It's  true.   If  you  remain  adversaries  long  enough,  you 
get  to  know  each  other  so  well  that  you're  eating  together. 
You  may  fight  together,  but  you  eat  together.   But  he,  too, 
had  an  influence  on  my  education  as  a  new-book  store  man — 
which,  of  course,  is  a  totally  different  way  of  buying 
books  than  old  books. 

There's  one  incident  that  I'd  like  to  relate — I  may 
have  related  it  to  you  before--when  I  first  had  the  United 
Jewish  Welfare  Fund,  Hollywood  Division,  and  our  quota  was 
a  half  a  million  dollars  to  raise.   This  is  the  Ray  Healy 
I  told  you  about--a  very  human  person.   And  we  still  cor- 
respond.  He  now  lives  in  New  Hampshire  and  comes  back  here 
once  in  a  while.   When  he  does,  we  see  each  other. 

Another  chap  who  had  some  influence  in  teaching  me 
was  Jess  Carmack.   Now,  each  one  of  those  people  I  mentioned 
sold  me  in  the  very  first  season  when  we  decided  to  have 
new  books.   And  they  all  did  something  for  me,  to  help  guide 
me — very  honestly,  too.   And  one  of  the  reasons  I  love  to 
mention  it  is  because  there  was  a  certain  amount  of  trust 
established  between  the  representative  of  a  line  and  the 


buyer  of  a  line,  and  that  applies  to  many  other  trades, 
too.   A  good  representative  for  a  company,  selling  for  a 
company,  is  a  tremendous  asset,  both  for  the  company  and 
the  customer.   If  they  are  honest  with  each  other,  they 
will  maintain  a  relationship  which  promotes  good  business 
for  both  of  them.   Jess  Carmack--he  lives  now  on  San 
Vicente  in  Santa  Monica.   We  had  dinner  with  them  just 
two  Saturdays  before  last.   He  also  was  one  of  the  early 
ones.   He  represented  Dodd,  Mead;  and  later  on  he  represented 
Morrow  and  one  or  two  other  publishers.   At  that  time  there 
weren't  so  many  publishers'  men  representing  one  house,  ex- 
clusively.  They  were  commission  men,  and  they  represented 
two  or  three  and  sometimes  four  houses.   But  his  principal 
line  at  that  time,  I  think,  was  Dodd,  Mead.   Dodd,  Mead 
didn't  have  anywhere  near  the  catalog  that  Harper  had, 
but  we  went  through  the  catalog  again,  and  we  picked  up 
the  high  spots.   And  he  had  a  dictionary  of  music  he  was 
selling  at  that  time-- [Virgil]  Thomson  [Encyclopedia  of 
Music] ;  I  think  they  still  publish  it.   And  he  brought  it 
out.   At  that  time  it  was  selling  for  eight  dollars  and  a 
half,  which  was  a  heck  of  a  lot  of  money  for  a  book  in  those 
days.   Well,  I  said,  "Oh,  Jess,  who's  going  to  pay  me  eight 
dollars  and  a  half?"   "Well,"  he  said,  "Louis,  you're  not 
going  to  sell  very  many  of  them,  but  every  time  you  sell 
one,  it's  going  to  make  a  beautiful  tinkle  in  the  cash 
register."   I  never  forgot  that  line.   [laughter]   And  we 


bought  it,  and  we  sold  it.   On  my  own,  I  never  would  have 

chosen  that  book.   But  he  convinced  me  that  it  sells,  it's 

staple  stock.   You  won't  sell  too  many,  but  if  you  sell  one 

of  those,  that  was  the  equivalent  of  selling  four  novels 

at  two  dollars  apiece  in  those  days--which  is  the  total 

amount  of  business.   It's  helped  me  in  the  sense  that  it 

helped  me  create  a  good  stock  of  merchandise  where  people 

can  find  staples  as  well  as  best  sellers.   I  think  that 

was  one  of  our  major  strengths,  right  from  the  beginning. 

There's  a  chap  named  Ellis  Baker.   He's  now  retired, 

and  he  lives  up  in  the  Bay  Area,  Fremont.   And  I  correspond 

with  him  occasionally;  occasionally  I'll  call  him  on  the 

telephone.   He,  too,  is  one  of  the  old-timers.   He  used 

to  be  a  very  heavy  drinker.   And  when  he  was  in  his  cups, 

he  had  an  ugly  mouth.   But  he  later  gave  up  drinking  and 

almost  became  a  reformer;  then  he  wouldn't  associate  with 

anyone  that  drank.   He  always  used  to  travel  with  a  chap 

name  of  Charlie  Johnson,  who  also  called  on  me.   And  they 

were  great  friends.   But  when  he  stopped  drinking,  he  fell 

out  with  Charlie  Johnson  because  he  wanted  Charlie  to  stop 

drinking.   Charlie  rarely  drank  to  excess,  but  occasionally 

he  would  drink  to  excess,  but  not  the  way  Ellis  would.   And 

he  didn't  react  the  same  way  that  Ellis  did.   But  Ellis  was 

a  good  book  salesman,  in  spite  of  his  faults.   He  represented 

several  good  lines--Lippincott  was  one,  and  Winston,  at  that 

time.   We  established  a  very  nice  rapport,  and  we  got  along 

very  well. 


Drinking  was  an  occupational  hazard.   These  chaps 
would  go  out  on  the  road,  away  from  their  families,  and 
when  their  work  was  done  at  the  end  of  the  day,  they  would 
either  invite  the  buyers  from  the  stores  that  they  visited 
to  come  have  dinner  and  a  drink  with  them,  and  the  in- 
clination would  be  to  just  sit  there  and  drink. 


JULY  29,  1974 

EPSTEIN:   I  mentioned  Charlie  Johnson.   He  was  a  very 
hard-sell  salesman.   And  although  I  liked  him  as  a  per- 
son, I  always  dreaded  sitting  down  to  see  his  line  be- 
cause he  bore  down  so  hard  and  he  was  so  difficult  to 
fight  off.   And  he  represented  a  good  many  lines,  too, 
so  it  would  be  almost  an  all-day  fight  by  the  time  we 
were  through  with  him.   But  he  was  a  very  fine  person. 
After  he  got  through,  he  would  do  anything  for  you,  any- 
thing.  But  when  he  was  selling,  it  was  just  hammer,  hammer, 
hammer,  just  like  I  was  the  anvil  and  he  was  the  hammer. 

But  he  had  an  unfortunate  ending.   His  wife  had  a 
stroke,  and  for  years  she  just  lay  there,  almost  as  a 
vegetable.   And  he,  poor  man,  would  come  from  a  trip  and 
be  faced  with  that.   Eventually  she  died,  and  he  married 
again.   But  he  was  very  sadly  taken  in  his  marriage.   He 
married  a  woman  who  wanted  to  be  on  the  go  all  the  time. 
After  a  day's  work,  they'd  go  to  nightclubs,  and  dancing. 
And  he  was  up  in  years--he  was  an  old  man--and  he  just 
couldn't  keep  up  the  pace  with  her.   Finally  it  ended  in 
a  divorce.   But  I  think  his  mind  went  before  his  body.   The 
last  time  he  called  on  me,  he  was  in  such  pitiful  shape  that 
it  was  embarrassing  to  me,  and  we  felt  so  sorry  for  him. 
He  tried  to  perform  like  he  always  did,  but  it  just 


wasn't  there.   It  was  just  like  watching  a  man  in  a  prize 
fight  on  TV  sometimes.   You  know  the  man  is  through,  had 
no  business  going  into  that  ring  with  a  younger  opponent 
or  whatever;  he's  taking  a  beating  from  the  word  go.   And 
that's  the  way  it  was  watching  him  trying  to  sell.   But  he 
died.   I'm  not  sure  that  he  was  totally  there  when  he  died. 
And  I  think  of  him,  really,  with  a  great  deal  of  sorrow 
because  personally  he  was  a  great  guy,  a  great  host,  but 
his  selling  manner  I  didn't  like.   But  he  did  a  good  job 
in  calling  attention  to  the  things  he  had.   And  he  was  very 
successful.   In  addition  to  books,  he  had  a  line  of  toys. 
He  made  a  very  great  deal  of  money,  but  it  all  scattered 
away  with  his  bills,  and  second  wife  or  whatever.   But  it 
was  very  sad;  it  was  very  sad  to  see  him  on  his  last  trip. 

There  was  a  very  interesting  chap  by  the  name  of  Denny 
Chase  who  used  to  be  with  Harcourt  Brace,  one  of  the  very 
early  ones.   Denny  was  a  very  finely  educated  man,  probably 
the  most  literary  of  all  the  people  who  called  on  me  in 
those  days — although  Jess  Carmack  had  a  degree  in  English 
literature  from  Harvard.   He  knew  his  books.   But  Denny — 
I  don't  know  what  college  or  university  he  went  to,  but  he 
was  quite  literary.   He  represented  Harcourt  Brace  and  one 
other  line.   And  he  called  on  me  for,  oh,  about  ten,  twelve 
years.   Then  he  retired.   He  inherited  some  money,  and  his 
wife  inherited  some  money,  and  they  bought  an  island  up  in 
the  straits  of  Juan  de  Fuca  near  Seattle.   And  very 


interesting.   We  visited  him  one  time  on  the  island.   It 
was  really  the  kind  of  a  life  that  I  wouldn't  care  for, 
but,  oh,  they  just  loved  it.   They  were  the  only  ones  on 
the  island.   It  was  about  half  a  mile  from  shore,  and  they 
had  a  nice  house  which  he  was  constantly  improving.   And 
they  had  a  limited  amount  of  water.   But  later  I  heard  that 
they  got  another  good  well.   So,  of  course,  that  made  the 
island  much  more  habitable.   But  they  enjoyed  it  immensely. 
I  heard  recently  that  he  moved  back  to  the  mainland — I  guess 
because  of  medical  reasons.   He  was  getting  up  in  years,  I 
guess . 

Those  are  most  of  the  old-timers.   We  had  a  number  of 
them  who  came  on  later--excellent  bookmen,  a  good  many  of 
them — like  Ben  Burke,  who  represented  World  Book  Company. 
Jim  Wallace  came  a  little  later  than  the  others;  he  rep- 
resented Lippincott  and  Harcourt  Brace.   He  took  over 
after  Denny  Chase  left.   A  very  fine  man,  he's  just  re- 
cently retired--lives  in  the  Valley.   Jim  is  just  a  beauti- 
ful person. 

Stuie  Woodruff,  who's  now  Raymar ,  was  a  salesman  for 
Doubleday,  represented  Doubleday  at  our  store  for  quite  a 
while.   He  did  an  excellent  job.   He  used  to  give  us  fan- 
tastic service  at  Christmastime.   He  would,  on  his  way  down 
down  to  Raymar — well,  it  wasn't  Raymar  then,  it  was  Vroman's- 
he  would  stop  by  at  our  place  and  see  what  Doubleday  books 
we  needed.   (Vroman's  operated  a  separate  wholesale  business 


then.)   He'd  do  that  three,  four  times  a  week  during  the 
Christmas  rush  the  last  three,  four  weeks  of  the  season. 
And  he  would  get  our  order  in  the  morning,  deliver  it  back 
to  us  in  his  own  car  on  the  way  back  home  in  the  evening. 
He  lived  in  the  Valley.   He  did  that.   It  was  a  tremendous 
service,  and  it  would  be  amazing  how  many  dollars  of  extra 
business  you  can  pick  up  if  you  can  get  that  kind  of  ser- 
vice.  At  that  time,  no  matter  how  smart  you  are  in  your 
buying,  you  never  knew  how  much  or  which  ones  the  public 
is  going  to  want  during  the  Christmas  season.   It's  a  very 
frustrating  time  for  most  booksellers. 
GARDNER:   Can  we  talk  about  Raymar  for  a  minute  now? 
EPSTEIN:   I  think  we  talked  about  Raymar. 
GARDNER:   Oh,  did  we  talk  about  that? 

EPSTEIN:   Yeah.   I'm  quite  sure  we  talked  about  Raymar. 
GARDNER:   In  detail,  really? 

EPSTEIN:   He  and  Fran  Howell  both  had  worked  for  Vroman . 
When  Stuie  left  Doubleday,  he  went  to  work  for  Vroman. 
Well,  he  did  other  things,  too.   He  and  Fran  were  sales 
managers  for  a  record  house — I  think  Warner  Brothers — for 
a  couple  of  years.   [tape  stopped]   [They  wanted  to  be  in 
the]  wholesale-book  business,  and  they  got  some  backing 
from  somewhere,  and  they  opened  Raymar--made  a  marvelous 
success.   They  now  have  three  places:   one  up  in  Bellingham, 
Washington,  and  one  in  some  town  near  Chicago  for  that  area.* 

*   The  Chicago  area  one  recently  was  closed .-- [L.E. ] 


And  they're  doing  very  well.   They  work  on  a  very  close 
margin  of  profitability,  but  they're  quite  efficient. 
They've  developed  a  lot  of  new  ideas,  and  they're  a 
great  boon  to  any  territory  which  they're  in  because 
they  carry  quite  a  good  stock.   The  booksellers  depend 
on  them — especially  smaller  booksellers — for  a  great  deal 
of  their  supply.   They're  both  very  fine  people.   Raymar 
is  an  acronym  of  the  names  of  the  wives,  Raymone  and  Margaret: 
Raymar.   They  twisted  them  around.   Incidentally,  they  just 
bought  out  the  Ward  Ritchie  Press.  And   I  haven't  talked 
to  them.   I  don't  know  what  their  plans  are  for  it,  but 
I  imagine  they  plan  to  run  it  as  a  publishing  arm.*   With 
their  three  major  outlets,  they  could  give  them  distribu- 
tion.  But  I  don't  know.   You  can  combine  publishing  with 
wholesaling,  and  you  begin  to  diffuse  your  energies  and 
your  thinking,  your  executive  powers.   But  so  far  they've 
done  an  excellent  job. 

We're  coming  now  to  what  I  might  call  almost  the  second 
generation  of  salesmen,  apart  from  those  fellows  who  were 
the  first  to  call  on  me.   Amongst  those,  perhaps  as  prominent 
as  any,  would  be  Errett  Stuart.   When  I  first  met  him,  I  was 
still  on  Eighth  Street.   He  had  been  in  the  service.   He 
came  from  St.  Louis,  and  somehow  or  other,  when  I  first 
met  him,  he  was  working  at  the  May  Company  book  department. 

*   They  are  definitely  running  a  publishing  business.-  [L.E.] 


Occasionally  he'd  get  a  review  copy  of  a  book  and  come 
rushing  down  to  sell  it  to  me.   And  we  had  a  gag  running  be- 
tween us  that  if  it  hadn't  been  for  Louis  Epstein  being  on 
Eighth  Street,  and  [his]  rushing  in  and  getting  fifty  cents 
for  the  brand  new  book,  he  might  not  have  survived.   And  I 
said,  "Yeah,  but  where  in  hell  did  I  get  fifty  cents?" 
[laughter]   But  he's  an  excellent  salesman.   He's  still  sell- 
ing.  He  had  Viking  up  until  a  couple  of  years  ago.   He  lost 
that;  they  hired  their  own  salesman--which  was  a  mistake.   But 
he  got  other  lines.   Now  he  has  his  two  sons  [Jeff  and  Terry] 
working  for  him,  and  they've  got  a  nice  organization  of  com- 
mission salesmen.   They  have  several  good  lines.   He's  a  very 
nice  man--nice  family--and  one  of  the  people  that  we're  very 
friendly  with  and  who  really  did  an  excellent  job. 

Ron  Smith  handles  Abrams  and  several  other  lines.   He  came 
out  of  the  retail-book  business.   He  worked  for  the  Sather 
Gate,  up  north,  for  a  number  of  years.   He  left  them  and  start- 
ed selling  as  a  commission  salesman.   He  sold  for  Doubleday  for 
a  while,  I  think,  and  he  sold  me  for  years  and  years  and  years. 
Why  he  doesn't  retire,  I  don't  know.   Well,  I  talked  to  him;  we 
discussed  that.   I  saw  him  one  day  about  two  years  ago  crawling 
around  on  the  floor,  checking  paperbacks  for  some  one  of  his 
lines.   And  I  said,  "Ron,  aren't  you  a  little  bit  aged  for  do- 
ing that  kind  of  work?"   "Well,"  he  said,  "as  long  as  it  has  to 
be  done,  I've  got  to  do  it."   It's  a  good  answer,  but  it  wasn't 
particularly  healthy  for  him.   But  he  says  he  feels  fine 


and  all  that/  but  he's  a  little  bit  nervous.  I  hope 
nothing  happens  to  him  till  he  does  retire.  He  is  a 
good  bookman — knows  his  books. 

Bob  Cohen  is  one  of  the  later  ones,  representing 
Random  House.   He  came  out  here  when  Random  House  decided 
to  have  their  own  man  instead  of  a  commission  man.   And 
it  was  a  little  difficult  at  first.   Very  New  Yorkish — 
very  house  conscious,  in  the  sense  that  he  wanted  all 
the  advantages  for  the  house.   I  thought  when  he  first 
came  around  that  he  was  asking  too  much  for  his  house 
and  not  giving  too  much  to  the  customer — in  various  things. 
We  had  our  difficulties  at  first,  one  time  a  very  serious 
one.   However,  we  straightened  that  out,  and  we've  become 
very  good  friends.   And  he  changed  his  methods  of  selling. 
As  a  matter  of  fact,  I  gave  him  a  good  long  lecture  on 
that.   I  said,  "Look,  you  may  think  you're  doing  a  great 
deal  for  your  house,  but  you're  not.   You're  making  demands 
on  your  customers  which  are  unreasonable,  and  you're  not 
satisfying  the  reasonable  demands  of  your  customer."   I 
said,  "In  my  opinion,  all  the  good  salesmen  I  ever  knew 
would  fight  my  battles  for  me  with  their  house.   You  do 
just  the  reverse."   And  I  told  him  I  didn't  think  that  was 
good  salesmanship;  I  didn't  think  eventually  it  would  be 
good  for  the  house.   Of  course,  he  resented  my  telling  him 
that.   But  later  we  settled  our  differences,  and  he  changed 
his  methods.   And  we  became  very  good  friends.   He's  a  very 


good  friend  of  the  family,  Aaron's  and  Eugene's.   As  a 
matter  of  fact  we  took  them  to  dinner  at  Scandia  on 
their  anniversary.   They  thought  I  was  great.   I  thought 
he  just  wasn't  using  good  judgment,  and  I  told  him  so.   I 
pointed  out  to  him  that  every  salesman  on  my  list — I  went 
over  all  the  old-timers--!  said,  "I  can  ask  any  one  of  them 
to  do  certain  things,  and  they  will  do  them  for  me.   You 
always  look  on  it  as  me  demanding  something  from  your  house. 
I  am  demanding  something  from  your  house.   But  I  think  I 
have  a  right  to  demand  certain  things  from  your  house.   I 
am  a  very  demanding  man,"  I  told  him.   "I  have  to  be.   But 
it's  your  job  to  transmit  my  demands."   The  controversy 
came  up  about  advertising.   All  the  other  publishers  were 
giving  us  certain  allowances  for  cooperative  advertising. 
And  he  refused  to  do  it.   I  said,  "Okay,  then  I'll  buy 
just  a  minimal  amount  of  that  kind  of  merchandise."   I 
said,  "Why  should  I  take  any  less  from  you  than  I  get  from 
so-and-so."   "Well,"  he  said,  "We've  got  a  better  house. 
It's  our  house's  policy,"  and  so  forth.   I  said,  "It  was 
the  house  policy  of  every  one  of  these  other  publishers 
until  we  convinced  them  that  it  would  be  to  their  advan- 
tage to  do  these  things.   And  you  don't  want  to  even  trans- 
mit these  demands."   I  said,  "Do  you  want  me  to  call  New 
York?"   I  said,  "I  don't  do  that."   I  said,  "I  don't  call 
New  York.   But  if  you  will  give  me  permission,  I  will." 


"No,"  he  said,  "You  don't  have  to  call  New  York."   And  little 
by  little  he  broke  down.   But  it  was  a  battle.   He's 
a  firm-minded  guy,  but  he's  a  nice  guy.   But  he  thought  he 
was  doing  the  very  right  thing.   I  told  him  that  he  wasn't. 
But  all's  well  that  ends  well. 

But  this  is  a  way  we  had  to  teach  the  salesmen  cer- 
tain things,  and  they  taught  us  certain  things.   We  created 
a  certain  type  of  business  at  Pickwick.   We  created  a 
certain  type  of  promotions--which  were  to  the  advantage 
of  the  Pickwick  but  they  were  also  to  the  advantage  of 
the  publishers.   And  it  was  a  very  rough  go  to  try  to 
convince  them  to  give  us,  say,  $200,  $500,  for  an  ad. 
That  will  benefit  us,  but  it  will  also  benefit  them. 
And  a  few  of  them  were  willing  to  go  along  with  us  and 
give  us  a  trial.   And  it  was,  on  the  whole,  very  suc- 
cessful.  And  now  they're  all  doing  it--not  only  doing 
it  for  Pickwick,  but  they're  doing  it  for  others.   So 
we  created  something  that  benefited  the  whole  indus- 
try.  But  we  had  to  fight  like  hell  for  it. 

It  was  my  contention--if  you'll  allow  me  to  diverge-- 
that  if  Pickwick  advertised  a  book,  every  bookstore  in 
the  area  would  get  the  same  benefit  of  that  ad  as  the 
Pickwick  did.   So  although  the  Pickwick  was  given  an  al- 
lowance to  run  that  ad,  on  a  certain  number  of  dollars,  the 
publisher  wasn't  giving  it  to  the  Pickwick  alone,  really.   Because 


Bob  Campbell's  customers  weren't  about  to  call  me  for 
that  book.   They're  smart  enough  to  know  that  Bob  would 
have  it.   Vroman ' s  customers  are  not  going  to  call  from 
Pasadena  for  it.   And  the  people  living  in  Long  Beach 
who  read  the  Times  weren't  going  to  call  me  from  Long 
Beach.   Or  May  Company's  customers.   And  we  went  right 
down  the  line.   And  those  who  were  a  little  bit  open- 
minded--well,  it's  something  they'd  never  done  before. 
And  it  never  was  explained  to  them  that  way  before.   So 
finally,  one  or  two  of  them  tried  it,  and  they  found  out 
that  that's  exactly  what  happened.   Every  store  in  town 
got  benefit  of  that  ad.   It  was  proven  to  them  by  the 
phone  orders  that  started  coming  into  Vroman.   The  minute 
they  saw  that  ad  Monday  morning,  the  wholesale  house  would 
start  getting  calls  for  that  book  because  the  bookstores 
started  getting  calls  for  that  book.   And  it  was  proven — 
I  think  the  most  dramatically--with  Ron  Smith,  Arco.   I 
think  I  mentioned  that  before. 
GARDNER:   Yes,  you  told  the  story. 

EPSTEIN:   That  was  so  dramatic  that  we  used  that  as  an 
example  to  the  publishers  time  and  time  again.   Now  it's 
just  a  matter  of  course.   They  call  up — would  we  please 
run  an  ad  for  them?   It's  a  complete  turnaround.   And  that 
was  where  one  of  the  major  differences  with  Bob  Cohen  was 
when  we  first  came  out  here.   Aaron  had  a  great  deal  to  do 
with  that  program — with,  of  course,  the  backing  of  ourselves. 


A  very  fine  salesman  who  called  on  me  for  many  years 
is  Jim  Pike,  a  very  reserved  guy,  from,  I  think,  Philadel- 
phia, who  had  McKay  and  Putnam.   He's  since  given  up  Putnam. 
A  very  reserved  guy,  a  very  fine  person  who  had  a  semisoft 
sell.   But  he  tried  to  do  the  best  thing  he  could  for  his 
customers,  and  if  anything  came  up  between  us  and  the  house, 
why,  he  tried  his  best  to  get  it  settled.   We  always  worked 
with  the  salesmen  first,  rather  than  writing  to  the  house. 
It's  only  when  the  house  didn't  back  their  salesman  that 
we  went  directly,  usually  on  attack  for  not  backing  their 
salesmen.   Or  they  knew  what  they  were  talking  about,  that 
this  is  a  problem  we  should  be  able  to  settle  with  the 
salesmen  and  not  have  to  write  you  about.   If  he  represents 
your  line,  he  should  be  given  some  authority.   It's  one  of 
the  problems  with  a  lot  of  the  salesmen  that  call  on  the 
stores  today.   They're  sent  out;  they're  green,  have  no 
authority  to  act  responsibly  on  anything.   "Well,  I'll 
have  to  call  the  house."   And  this  takes  time;  they  for- 
get.  The  house  gives  them  an  offhand  answer  and  causes 
a  great  deal  of  anguish--and  delays  for  the  booksellers. 
But  Jim  was  one  of  the  very  nice  people. 

There  was  Jim  Nourse  and  Floyd  Nourse.   One  of  the 
earliest  people  that  I  should  have  mentioned  before  is 
Jim  Nourse 's  father,  Jim  and  Floyd's  father,  Jim,  Sr.   He 
used  to  sell  me.   About  the  time  I  started  buying,  he  sold 
me  for  one  or  two  seasons,  and  then  Errett  Stuart  went  to 


work  for  him.   Then  Errett  started  selling  me.   They  rep- 
resented Knopf,  and  Viking,  and  Harlem  Book  Company,  a 
remainder  house.   Is  that  four  lines?   I  forget  what  the 
other  was.   Later  they  broke  up,  and  Errett  got  Viking 
and  Harlem,  and  Nourse  got  Knopf — and  who  else?   I  forget 
who  else.   At  any  rate,  originally  the  older  gentleman 
sold  me.   Then  later  Jim  sold  me,  Jim,  Jr. 

And  I  remember  the  first  time  he  came  to  call  on  me. 
He  had  just  gotten  out  of  the  service.   He  had  been  a 
flier,  and  from  what  I  hear — what  I  found  out  later--quite 
a  heroic  one.   He  was  in  the  drink  a  couple  of  times,  res- 
cued, and  went  right  back  flying.   He  never  mentioned  it, 
never  talked  about  it.   And  I  remember  the  first  time  he 
called  on  me.   The  poor  youngster  was  so  worried — well, 
not  worried,  but  nervous.   He  had  his  talk  all  made  up. 
And  every  time  I  asked  him  a  question,  it  would  stop  the 
flow  of  his  talk,  and  he  had  to  start  over  again.   He  sort 
of  memorized  his  speech,  and  I  always  kid  him  about  that. 
I  ask  him  if  he  still  forgets  his  speech.   And  he  became  a 
good  man.   Then  he  and  his  brother  now  represent  several 
publishers.   They're  doing  an  excellent  job.   And  they  did 
extremely  well. 

The  father  made  a  lot  of  money  in  real  estate  up  around 
Los  Altos  or  San  Carlos — or  somewhere  up  there  in  the  Bay 
Area.   The  boys  are  quite  well-to-do,  but  extremely  nice, 
nice  people. 


This  is  sort  of  another  family  affair.   There's  a 
chap  name  of  John  Storm  I  should  mention.   His  widow  is 
presently  the  manager  of  the  Hollywood  Pickwick  Bookstore. 
And  I  knew  him  first  v/hen  he  had  a  little  tiny  store  on 
VJest  Sixth  Street,  west  of  Vermont.   He  had  come  out  from 
Chicago  and  attempted  to  start  a  store,  quite  small,  and 
I  don't  think  he  quite  made  it.   He  went  back  to  Chicago 
and  somehow  got  a  job  selling  for  a  publisher.   He  rep- 
resented several  houses.   He  did  a  good  job  for  quite  a 
number  of  years,  but  the  poor  chap  died  before  his  time. 
In  one  of  those  pictures  I  have,  I  think  I  showed  you 
where  we're  playing  poker  at  a  bookman's  field  day,  and 
we're  all  three  of  us — Ben  Burke,  and  he,  and  I — so  in- 
tensely watching  our  cards.   Well,  I'm  the  only  one  left 
of  those  three  in  that  picture. 

Bob  MacDonald  is  one  of  the  older  men  who  did  a  very 
good  job  with  me,  representing  Prentice-Hall.   He  had  been 
in  the  book  business  for  many  years  in  the  city  before  he 
went  with  Prentice-Hall.   He  was  with  the  Los  Angeles  News 
Company  in  the  days  when  the  Los  Angeles  News  Company  was 
the  only  wholesaler  out  here.   They  were  a  part  of  the 
American  News  Company,  which  was  a  national  chain  of  whole- 
salers of  magazines  and  books  and  various  kinds  of  sta- 
tionery.  After  he  left  the  News  Company,  he  went  to  work 
for  Prentice-Hall.   He  did  an  excellent  job  for  them.   And 
I  see  him  occasionally. 


Bill  McCullough  is  the  nephew  of  Harrison  Leusler  and 
took  over  the  territory  when  Harrison  retired.   Unlike  his 
uncle,  he  was  not  a  hard-sell  salesman,  but  he  was  a  good 
salesman,  [with  a]  very  nice,  nice  personality.   He  has  a 
territory  in  the  San  Francisco  area.   He  gets  down  here 
once  in  a  while,  and  we  meet. 

Ernie  Greenspan  has  Crown  and  the  Crown-related  com- 
panies of  reprints,  Outlet--a  very,  very  large  business. 
He,  too,  is  not  one  of  the  first-generation  salesmen  but 
the  second  generation.   He  does  an  excellent  job,  and  he 
helped  us  a  great  many  ways  on  developing  remainders  and 
learning  to  advertise  remainders.   And  he  fulfilled,  again, 
that  purpose  of  teaching  us,  and  he  would  learn  a  great  deal 
from  us--what  happens  after  we  advertise  a  remainder,  which 
ones  move  and  which  ones  don't.   And  we  created  a  different 
kind  of  ad.   They  used  to  have  these  ads  made  up  for  re- 
mainders mostly  run  by  department  stores.   When  we  first 
wanted  to  run  an  ad,  that's  exactly  the  kind  of  an  ad  they 
wanted  us  to  run.   I  said,  "No."   I  said,  "That's  not  the 
kind  of  an  ad  I  want."   I  said/  "I  don't  like  their  mix  of 
books,  either.   You  have  much  better  books,  from  my  point 
of  view,  to  advertise  than  those  that  they  advertise."   They 
would  advertise  forty-nine-cent  fiction.   I  said,  "I'm  not 
interested  in  advertising  forty-nine-cent  fiction.   It 
doesn't  mean  a  thing  to  me.   I  don't  think  it  would  mean 
much  to  my  customers.   We've  got  a  different  type  of  trade." 


Well,  by  give  and  take,  we  told  them  what  we  wanted,  and 
they  learned  on  their  own  that  we  could  do  a  better  job 
by  our  own  selections  than  the  prearranged  selections  that 
they  made  up  for  department  stores.   The  department  store 
buyers  were  not  knowledgeable  enough  of  books  to  make  up 
their  own  ad.   And  the  buyers  would  change  every  year  in 
some  areas,  every  three  years,  and  there's  no  continuity 
of  knov/ledge  built  up  in  a  department  store--or  rarely. 
And  in  that  respect,  again  proving  the  principle  that  one 
learns  from  the  other.   Ernie  still  calls,  does  a  big 
business  with  the  people. 

Another  one  of  the  second  generation,  as  I  would  call 
it,  is  Arthur  Babcock,  a  very  fine  chap  who  did  a  good  job. 
He  was  almost  colorless  in  a  good  many  ways.   But  he  knew 
how  to  sell,  even  without  the  color.   He  was  extremely 
honest  about  what  he  wanted  to  sell  you.   If  he  didn't 
think  that  you  could  sell  a  book  and  you  wanted  it,  you 
almost  had  to  beg  him  to  sell  you  a  copy.   Of  course,  in 
my  case,  I  always  bought,  well,  less  than  what  they  tried 
and  more  of  what  they  didn't  try.   But  he's  retired,  too, 

There's  a  young--not  young  anymore- -woman  by  the  name 
of  Betty  Gaskill  who  calls  on  us,  one  of  the  few  women 
publisher's  representatives  in  the  trade,  a  very  enthusias- 
tic person.   She  had  a  little  bookstore  in  Van  Nuys  for  a 
number  of  years — she  and  her  husband.   She  became  a  widow, 


and  she  became  a  salesperson  for  a  publisher.   She  was  one 
of  the  first  that  ever  showed  up  around  here.   And  she's 
doing  an  excellent  job--a  very  enthusiastic  person. 

Then,  you  might  say,  just  for  the  record,  I  should 
mention  Jim  Mottola,  who  sold  here  for  McGraw-Hill  for  a 
niomber  of  years — a  very  fine  salesman.   He  knew  his  lines, 
and  he  knew  how  to  sell.   He's  now  in  the  Chicago  area.* 
Frank  Scioscia.   A  great  many  people,  maybe,  in  UCLA  might 
know  Frank.   He  was  quite  a  literary  person.   He  had  a  nice 
library  of  books,  which  he  sold  when  he  left  here.   He  went 
to  work  for  Harper's  and  sold  them  for  a  while.   He's  from 
the  Northwest.   I  think  he  worked  for  J.K.  Gill  for  a  while 
and  was  an  excellent  salesman,  really  was.   Now  he's  with 
Harper's  in  the  home  office.   I  don't  know  exactly  his  posi- 
tion, but  of  course  he  still  has  something  to  do  with  sell- 
ing.  Unfortunately  I  heard  that  he  recently  had  a  heart 
attack.   I  wrote  him.   I  haven't  heard  any  answer,  and  I 
hope  he's  getting  along  well. 

Lou  Eaton,  I  should  mention.   Lou  Eaton  started,  I 
believe,  working  for  World  Book  Company.   I  think  he  married 
a  daughter  of  the  owner  of  the  firm.   And  Ann  and  I  met  him 
for  the  first  time  at  a  convention  in  Chicago,  I  believe  it 
was — at  the  convention  there.   And  we  were  introduced.   And 
a  look  came  over  his  face.   We  were  talking  for  a  little 

Mottola  recently  died.-- [L.E. ] 


while,  and  he  pulls  me  aside,  sits  me  down  over  somewhere. 
We  sat  down,  and  he  said,  "I  can't  help  but  tell  you  that 
you  have  exactly  the  same  name  as  I  have.   My  name  is  Louis 
Epstein,  too."   He  said  he  went  to  work  selling  bibles.   At 
that  time.  World  Publishing  Company  was  the  biggest  pub- 
lisher of  bibles  in  the  country.   And  they  had  their  sales- 
men go  out.   And  he  had  the  southern  territory,  and  he  said, 
"How  the  hell  was  I  going  to  get  into  the  door  with  the  name 
Louis  Epstein?"   So  he  changed  it  to  Lou  Eaton.   But  I  think 
any  knowledgeable  person  would  recognize  him  after  he  had 
talked  to  him  a  few  minutes. 

Eddie  Ponger  was  a  very  nice  person  who  is  no  longer 
in  this  territory.   He  represented  Simon  and  Schuster  here 
for  a  number  of  years--a  very  nice  man,  quite  a  lot  younger 
than  I  was.   He  became  a  good  friend  of  the  family;  he  and 
Aaron  and  the  others  all  got  along.   He  likes  to  tell  the 
story  about  the  way  I  worked  in  comparison  to  the  way  some 
other  booksellers  work.   He  said  that  even  at  my  age — and 
I  was  in  my  sixties--that  with  his  line  the  buyers  of  a 
department  store  or  some  other  store  would  ask  for  two 
days  to  look  it  over.   But,  he  said,  I  always  went  all 
through  it  in  one  day--with  all  my  interruptions.   And 
he  said  many  times  when  he  was  all  worn  out  at  five  o'clock, 
and  nowhere  near  finished,  that  I  would  insist  that  we  con- 
tinue, that  he  had  to  drag  himself  home.   I  suppose  that's 
a  little  bit  apocryphal,  but  it's  a  good  story. 


Jack  Dawley,  who  represents  Simon  and  Schuster  now — 
who  took  Eddie  Ponger's  place  with  Simon  and  Schuster — 
before  that  was  with  Harper.   Jack  Dawley  was  with  Harper; 
he  was  hired  by  Frank  Scioscia.   Jack  is  one  of  the  first 
black  salesmen  in  the  West.   He  does  an  excellent  job--a 
very  fine  person — and  he  is  the  kind  of  person  that  could 
go  anywhere  if  he  wasn't  black.   But  I  suppose  that  even 
in  the  publishing  business,  a  number  of  areas  are  still 
closed  to  him.   But  he  still — he's  about  middle-aged  now — 
has  a  lot  of  opportunity.   And  he  may  go  back  to  Harper. 
There's  some  little  bit  of  rumor  that  he  might  go  back; 
I  don't  know.   He's  doing  an  excellent  job  and  is  a  good 
friend  of  ours. 

Georgie  Kellogg,  George  Kellogg,  represented  Grosset 
and  Dunlap  for  a  great  many  years  out  here  and  did  a  good 
job.   A  peculiar  character,  he  was  almost  too  frank  with 
his  bosses.   They  never  gave  him  the  recognition  that  he 
should  have  had,  I  think  because  he  was  overly  frank  with 
them.   In  other  words,  if  he  saw  something  wrong,  he  stepped 
right  out  and  said  it,  and  sometimes  you  just  can't  do  that 
in  a  large  organization.   But  he  did  an  excellent  job  of 
selling.   He's  now  retired,  enjoys  his  fishing,  and  I  men- 
tioned him  because  he  was  a  good  salesman  and  he  had  been 
around  for  a  long  time. 

Bill  Webb  has  been  selling  for  about  fifteen  years, 
but  I  still  call  him  one  of  the  younger  men.   And  he's 


an  extremely  literate  person.   He  represents  a  niunber  of 
houses--Watson-Guptill ,  which  sells  a  lot  of  art  books, 
how-to  art  books.   He  does  a  good  job.   He's  a  forceful 
seller,  sometimes  too  forceful.   But  on  the  whole,  we  had 
a  satisfactory  relationship  between  the  Pickwick  and  he, 
and  he  depended  on  me  for  a  great  deal  of  what  he  learned. 
He  told  me  so.   And  I  think  I  mentioned  before  a  number  of 
the  people  said,  "Well,  I  always  go  sell  Louie  first,  be- 
cause by  the  time  I  get  through  selling  Louie,  I've  learned 
my  line" — which  may  or  may  not  be  true.   (They  all  called  me 
Louie.)   I  told  what  I  thought  of  the  line,  anyway.   At 
least,  by  the  way  I  bought,  they  knew  what  I  liked.   And 
I  think  I  was  probably  as  good  a  bellwether  as  anybody. 

Bill  Chaffee,  I  haven't  mentioned  yet,  I  don't  think. 
Bill  was  around  for  quite  a  number  of  years.   He  sold  a 
niamber  of  publishers,  including  Bobbs-Merrill .   A  very 
aggressive  salesman,  inclined  to  be  hard  sell.   He  did  a 
good  job,  but  I'm  not  positive  that  he  was  totally  happy 
in  the  book  business.   But  he  did  well.   He  was  with  the 
Nourse  boys  for  a  while.   But  he  had  a  disagreement  with 
one  of  the  publishers  he  represented,  and  they  sort  of 
forced  him  out  of  that  organization,  out  of  the  Nourse 
group.   They  told  him  that  if  Bill  was  going  to  continue 
to  sell  the  line,  that  they  would  have  to  give  up  the  line — 
which,  of  course,  they  didn't  want  to  do,  so  Bill  was  asked 
to  resign.   Which  was  a  terrific  blow  to  his  ego,  and  I 


knew  about  what  type  of  argument  it  was.   It  was  a  clash 
of  personalities.   Bill  was  sometimes  a  little  pugnacious, 
and  that  affected  his  relationship  with  people.   But  on 
the  whole  he's  a  very  fine  man,  and  I  still  maintain  a 
very  nice  friendship  with  him.   He's  retired,  living  at 
Sedona,  Arizona,  in  that  valley  that  runs  right  through 
from  Prescott.   As  you  go  from  Prescott  to  Flagstaff,  you 
go  through  part  of  it.   And  I  talk  to  him  on  the  telephone 

A  young  man  name  of  Ernest  Callraan — I  still  call  him 
a  young  man.   He  used  to  work  for  me  and  went  to  selling. 
And  then  there  are  a  number  of  others  I  could  mention,  like 
Herb  Chapin  was  a  newer  person,  Harry  Smith,  Mel  Dir,  Fred 
Hill,  George  Corey,  Geoffrey  Barr,  Bill  Reynolds. 

Bill  Reynolds — I  have  a  little  story  about  him.   A 
great  churchman,  when  he  first  started  calling  on  us,  he 
represented  a  religious  house.   Then  he  represented  the 
Harper  religious  line,  and  then  he  had  another  religious 
line.   Later  he  went  to  work  selling  trade  books,  and  his 
job  was  combined  out  of  the  job  in  some  way  or  other  by 
some  new  setup  in  the  selling.   So  he  got  a  job  selling 
Lippincott,  which,  of  course,  is  a  regular  trade  house. 
And  about  a  year  and  a  half  ago,  I  parked  in  back  of  the 
Pickwick,  and  he  parked  in  back  of  the  Pickwick  with  a 
woman.   And  he  introduced  me  to  her.   And  then  we  went 
into  the  shop,  and  she  was  to  autograph  books.   And  a 


most  unlikely  woman  to  ever  find  with  a  character  such 
as  Bill  Reynolds — she  was  a  woman  who  shot  her  husband, 
who  was  a  collector  of  guns  up  around  San  Jose.   The  case 
was  in  the  papers.   She  claimed  she  shot  him  in  self-defense, 
and  they  found  a  whole  arsenal  in  this  home.   I  talked  to 
him  about  it  later.   I  said,  "Well,  I  am  not  keeping  my  eye 
on  you,  so  here  you  go  with  company  such  as  that." 

Oh,  I  should  mention  Russell  Goodrich,  who  was  around 
for  years  and  years — a  very  fine  chap  who  sold  Merriam- 
Webster  dictionaries  who  is  now  retired.   Henry  Caster  sold 
Doubleday  for  a  number  of  years  out  here.   Dave  Bramble  used 
to  live  down  the  hill  here  for  a  while.   He  was  a  salesman 
whose  wife  inherited  a  lot  of  money.   So  he  went  out  of  the 
bookselling  business.   Joe  Carroll,  who  represented  Scribner-- 
a  very  fine,  very  religious  Irish  Catholic.   He  did  a  good 
job  of  selling  Scribner.   Well,  he's  long  gone  now.   Al 
Doering,  who  was  the  general  manager  for  Grosset  on  the 
West  Coast,  was  an  excellent  salesman.   He,  poor  guy,  is 
gone.   Oh,  Bill  Gordon,  Wilmot  Gordon,  who  represented 
Oxford  University  Press  for  years--one  of  the  finest  gentle- 
men, a  real  gentleman,  a  good  salesman,  knew  how  to  sell, 
soft  sell,  and  did  an  excellent  job.   He  lives  part  time 
in  Mexico  and  part  in  Pasadena.   Herb  Chapin  is  relatively 
new;  Frank  Corsello  is  relatively  new.   Helen  Kosick,  who 
was  for  years  with  the  Los  Angeles  News  Company:   later, 
when  that  went  out  of  business,  she  went  to  work  for  Dial 


Delacorte.   And  she  called  on  the  trade  for  a  while.   Bob 
Wilkie's  one  of  the  newer  men.   George  O'Hara  represents 
World.   He's  represented,  over  the  years,  many  different 
houses.   He  called  on  me  only  a  few  years,  but  I've  known 
him  for  a  great  many  years.   And  my  wife  says — that's  her 
theory--he  was  responsible  for  me  getting  involved  with  the 
ABA,  that  he  was  the  one  that  called  to  the  attention  of 
the  office  of  the  ABA:   "We've  got  a  good  man  here  for  the 
board."   Ted  Moss,  who's  now  sales  manager  for  Dial,  sold 
us  for  a  while.   Bill  Maher.   These  are  all  names  that 
should  be  in  the  records  somehow  or  other.   A  chap  by  the 
name  of  Harry  Smith  first  sold  me  paperback.   He  originally 
sold  me  reprints  when  I  was  still  on  Eighth  Street.   I'm 
sure  I  left  out  some  people,  but  I  think  I've  got  most  of 
the  important  gentlemen--and  some  of  them  are  really  fine 
gentlemen.   They're  all  nice  men,  but  some  were  more  pol- 
ished than  others.   Karl  Placht — I  think  I  mentioned  him 
in  connection  with  Brentano's.   He  later  became  a  salesman, 
represented  Button  for  a  great  many  years.   Let's  see,  Louis 
Freedman,  I  told  you  about.   Oh,  Jack  O'Leary  represented 
Doubleday  for  a  while  here;  now  he's  a  big  man  in  the  head 


AUGUST  13,  1974 

GARDNER:   Today  I'd  like  to  talk  first  about  the  Southern 
California  Booksellers  Association.   I  know  you  don't  have 
all  the  dates  on  hand.   tVhat  brought  the  group  together? 
What  sorts  of  problems  brought  the  group  together? 
EPSTEIN:   Well,  the  Southern  California  Booksellers  Associa- 
tion was  one  of  those  intermittent  things  that  would  start 
up  when  some  occasion  presented  itself  or  some  emergency 
came  up,  such  as  postage  rates  or  police  action  about  pornog- 
raphy, or — as  in  the  last  case — the  advertising  program 
called  "Cavalcade  of  Books."   That  started  perking  around 
1951,  and  they  came  around  to  us — Jack  and  Frances  Case. 
Jack  Case  was  an  advertising  man  in  the  city,  very  well 
known.   He's  in  his  eighties  now  and  lives  down  near,  oh, 
San  Juan  Capistrano  somewhere,  now.*   But  he  was  an  Olympic 
champion  hurdler  way  back  around  1912  or  '16 — I  forget  which 
of  the  two.   A  very  fine  person,  he'd  been  in  the  advertis- 
ing business.   His  wife  was  Frances  Case,  a  very  promotional- 
minded  woman  and  a  very  aggressive  type  of  businesswoman. 
And  the  two  of  them  came  up  with  the  idea  of  having  a  tele- 
vision program  about  books.   And  they  brought  it  to  two  or 
three  of  us,  brought  the  program  to  mind.   None  of  us  really 
thought  it  would  go  over,  but  because  they  were  willing  to 

*   Jack  Case  has  since  died. — [L.E.] 


put  in  their  time  and  effort,  we  said,  well,  we  would 
gamble  a  few  hundred  dollars  each.   I  believe  it  was 
Vroman's  of  Pasadena,  and  myself.  Bob  Campbell,  and 
Fowler,  I  think,  and  Walter  Martindale.   We  each  put 
in  relative  amounts  of  money--not  the  same  amount,  but 
how  much  we  were  willing  to  risk.   There  was  no  profit 
to  us,  except  that  if  we  got  a  program,  which  would  be 
supported  mostly  by  the  publishers'  advertising  allowances, 
it  would  do  us  all  good.   But  we  didn't  think  that  the  pub- 
lishers would  come  across  to  that  extent,  to  make  it  feasi- 
ble and  worthwhile  for  the  Cases  to  put  in  their  time  and 
effort.   But  they  were  good  promoters  and  very  hard  workers, 
and  they  got  the  thing  going.   And  for  a  couple  of  years 
the  booksellers,  some  of  us  booksellers,  put  in  some  money. 
But  to  get  the  backing  for  the  program,  they  revital- 
ized the  Southern  California  Booksellers  Association.   Now 
this  is  not  to  be  confused  with  the  Southern  California 
Antiquarians.   This  was  the  new-book  sellers.   It  got  the 
program  started.   Jack  did  a  lot  of  excellent  work  on  it 
and  excellent  promotion.   They  planned  it  very  nicely,  and 
for  a  while  the  program  went  over  big.   It  was  new,  it  had 
a  lot  of  new  faces  on  it,  and  it  was  an  interesting  program — 
not  for  the  literary  person,  necessarily,  but  for  the  liter- 
ate viewer  of  TV.   The  "Cavalcade  of  Books"  would  have  guests 
on  it,  usually  the  authors  of  the  books,  or,  if  it  was  an 
unusual  book,  maybe  some  outside  guest  of  prominence  to 


review  that  particular  book.   The  program  itself — well, 
we  have  a  copy  of  one  of  their  programs  here.   They  would 
review  about  four  or  five  books,  and  they  would  have  two 
reviewers.   They  started  off  with  Georgiana  Hardy,  who  is 
presently  on  the  school  board,  retiring  next  year.   She  was 
one  of  the  reviewers. 

I  knew  Georgiana  for  many  years,  and  I  knew  her  hus- 
band iJack]  before  I  knew  her.   He  was  a  customer  of  mine 
when  he  was  a  very  young  lawyer.   He  was  in  one  of  those 
buildings  downtown  with  the  cheaper  rent,  and  he  used  to 
come  and  buy  books  from  us.   And  I  remember  when  he  was 
first  going  with  Georgiana.   And  he,  poor  man,  died  much 
too  early  in  his  life.   She  became  a  widow.   We  were  quite 
friendly,  and  whenever  a  campaign  for  her  came  up,  why,  I 
did  what  I  could  to  help  her--including  furnishing  her  with 
a  little  bit  of  money;  it's  the  lifeblood  of  a  political 

But  she  was  one  of  the  early  reviewers.   And  you  notice 
on  this  program  that  I  have  here,  one  of  the  reviewers  was 
Everett  Noonan.   Well,  Everett  was  one  of  our  salespeople. 
But  he  had  a  flair  for  the  theatrical  and  had  once  been  a 
hoofer,  a  minor  hoofer.   He  liked  to  talk  to  groups.   And 
he  was  one  of  the  early  reviewers--did  a  good  job.   It  was 
a  field  that  was  entirely  new — they  had  to  make  their  way-- 
and  they  built  up  the  program  very,  very  nicely  until  it 
reached  a  peak.   And  the  peak  arrived  when  the  publishers 


would  use  their  advertising  allowances  for  books — instead 
of  to  a  general  program,  they  switched  over  to  direct  ads 
in  the  newspapers  under  the  name  of  some  bookstore,  such 
as  the  Pickwick.   I  mean,  we  were  responsible  for  building 
the  program  up,  we  and  other  booksellers.   But  in  my  mind, 
we  were  also  responsible  for  its  demise,  because  when  we 
started  the  program  of   publicity  and  advertising  for  the 
publishers,  they  had  less  money  to  spend  on  the  "Cavalcade." 

And  the  "Cavalcade,"  to  be  honest,  really  became  a  little 
monotonous.   The  format  was  the  same.   There  was  not  a  great 
deal  of  room  to  vary  format,  because  if  they  had  to  cover 
six,  seven,  or  eight  books  in  a  half  an  hour,  there  wasn't 
very  much  they  could  do  except  name  the  books,  tell  a  little 
story.   And  if  they  gave  one  book  too  much  time,  then  the 
publisher  of  that  book  was  dissatisfied  with  it  and  com- 
plained.  So  they  had  to  be  always  walking  on  a  tightrope. 
They  served  their  purpose,  and  they  did  a  good  job.   But 
like  so  many  things,  after  they'd  been  aroxond  a  while,  the 
public  gets  tired  of  looking.   And  also  there  was  the 
pressure  for  publishers'  money  from  the  Pickwick  and  all 
the  other  booksellers  who  were  now  doing  more  individual 
advertising.   The  Pickwick  established  a  formula — Aaron 
developed  that  over  a  period  of  time,  from  one  step  to 
another.   So  we  sort  of  drew  away  a  lot  of  the  available 
money  for  that  "Cavalcade  of  Books"  program.   It  took  a  little 
while,  but  the  publishers  gave  it  good  support  for  a  while. 


Then  it  began  to  drop  off  a  little  bit.   They  were  unhappy 
how  much  time  they  got;  they  were  unhappy  how  their  book 
was  treated;  they  were  unhappy  how  the  reviewer  reviewed 
it--or  whatever.   All  kinds  of  little  things  can  happen 
in  a  relationship  which  is  a  bought  relationship. 

So  the  "Cavalcade  of  Books"  was  really  the  prime  reason 
for  the  revival  of  the  Booksellers  Association  at  that  time. 
It's  still  going  on.   They  give  two  dinners  a  year--a  spring 
dinner  and  a  fall  dinner--and  the  booksellers  get  together, 
have  a  good  time.   They  h.'^va  a  fev7  authors  speaking.   But 
it's  not  a  public  program  at  all  now.   It's  good  to  have 
the  organization  available  in  case  something  stirs.   But 
without  a  cause,  it's  hard  to  keep  an  organization  to- 
gether— which  you  probably  know — and  sometimes  it  drags  a 
little  bit.   And  the  hard-to-find  good  of f icers--those  who 
are  most  capable,  maybe,  are  too  busy.   But  it's  going  on. 
They  keep  an  active  organization.   We  all  pay  dues,  and 
there's  money  in  the  bank  to  supplement  the  dinner.   They 
have  a  good  time,  and  a  few  drinks.   That  was  '51,  '52  when 
the  Cases  started  that  program. 

GARDNER:   What  sort  of  issues  and  causes  kept  the  organiza- 
tion together,  then,  after  the  "Cavalcade  of  Books"  folded? 
EPSTEIN:   Just  promoting  these  dinners,  and  still  promo- 
tion for  the  "Cavalcade."   And  when  the  "Cavalcade"  ceased, 
why,  the  organization  went  on,  just  to  give  a  couple  of 
dinners  a  year,  really,  and  get  together  once  in  a  while 


in  a  business  meeting  and  discuss  problems.   But  even 
those,  we  haven't  been  doing  too  much  lately.   The  dinner 
is  about  the  only  activity  that  they're  having  now.   The 
salesmen  are  invited,  publisher's  representatives,  and 
usually  they  have  a  couple  hundred  people  show  up,  and 
about  three,  four  good  speakers — authors  whose  books  are 
presently  current — and  have  a  good  time.   If  anything 
comes  up  that's  dangerous  to  the  book  trade,  we  have  an 
organization  that  is  ready  to  act  if  necessary.   There 
have  been  a  lot  of  problems  in  the  book  business,  but  none 
of  the  type  that  an  organization  can  discuss.   The  organiza- 
tions have  to  be  extremely  careful  what  they  discuss;  we 
can't  discuss  discoiints.   It's  against  the  law. 
GARDNER:   Because  of  price  fixing. 

EPSTEIN:   Price  fixing.   We  can't  discuss  publisher  terms. 
We  can  discuss  things  that  are  wrong--poor  packing,  or 
poor  shipping,  or  late  shipping,  those  types  of  problems — 
but  not  anything  that  relates  to  the  actual  cost  or  sale 
price  of  merchandise.   So  that  eliminates  a  lot  of  dis- 
cussion.  A  lot  of  that  is  done,  of  course,  but  in  the 
cloakroom,  you  might  say,  one  to  one.   You  can't  talk  to 
two  people  about  it.   Even  to  one,  you  can't  say,  "Well, 
look,  if  you  price  your  book  this  price,  I'll  price  mine 
the  same,"  or,  "You  quit  buying  from  this  man  and  I'll  quit 
buying;  maybe  it'll  force  down  his  price."   Can't  talk  that. 
GARDNER:   But  does  that  happen? 


EPSTEIN:   It  happens  in  all  business;  of  course,  it  happens. 
But  it's  never  serious  to  the  extent  that:   "We  should  do  this," 
but  nobody  says,  "Let's  do  this."   There's  a  difference.   You 
can  talk  in  the  air:   "Publishers  are  charging  us  too  much 
money."   Or,  "Their  discount  is  too  small;  we  should  get  43  per- 
cent instead  of  40."   "We  should  be  getting  .  .  .  ."   But  no- 
body actually  says,  "Well,  let's  stop  buying  unless  we  get  43." 
Or,  "Don't  trade  with  this  publisher."   There's  a  line  between 
the  legal  and  the  illegal,  and  we  try  not  to  tread  across  the 
line . 

So  far  there  has  been  only  one  suit  that  I  remember  that 
the  Federal  Trade  Commission  has  filed  against  publishers, 
and  that  was  when  a  number  of  large  publishers  startea  pub- 
lishing library  editions.   They  had  been  publishing  library 
editions,  but  they  were  selling  them  through  wholesalers. 
There  were  certain  special  wholesalers  who  would  buy  these  li- 
brary editions,  or  buy  the  sheets  and  put  on  their  own  binding. 
And  the  publishers  adopted  a  schedule  of  discounts — every 
publisher  exactly  on  the  same  sliding  scale.   A  retail  book- 
seller couldn't  buy  those  books  at  that  discount.   He  had  to 
be  in  a  certain  business  and  buy  certain  quantities,  and  the 
retail  bookseller  was  practically  frozen  out  of  that  edition. 
You've  seen  them — mostly  children's  books  in  heavy  bindings 
for  libraries.   From  the  beginning,  I  recognized  it  as 
totally  illegal — not  that  we  wanted  to  handle  any  of  those 
editions  because  we  never  did  get  a  discount  on  them. 


But  at  least,  even  if  we  wanted  them  now,  we  couldn't 
get  any  discount--or  nowhere  near  the  discount  that  the 
other  people  were  getting.   Well,  one  of  the  booksellers — 
somewhere  in  Toledo,  Ohio,  I  think — brought  suit.   He 
brought  suit,  for  one  thing,  because  he  was  excluded. 
Then  the  libraries  got  smart,  and  the  libraries  brought 
suit.   They  collected  several  million  dollars  from  the 
publishers.   And  the  publisher  was  guilty  as  hell.   They 
were  very,  very  stupid  in  the  way  they  handled  it.   And 
now  they're  very,  very  careful  what  they  do  about  their 
discount  schedules.   It  has  to  be  all  the  same  to  all, 
and  they  can't  exclude  anybody  from  doing  business. 
GARDNER:   What  is  the  relationship  of  the  Southern 
California  Booksellers  to  the  ABA? 


Just  a  very  young  stepchild. 

It  is,  though.  .  .  . 

No  affiliation.   No  official  affiliation,  no. 

I  see. 

The  American  Booksellers  Association  has  no 

branches . 

GARDNER:   Oh,  I  see.   So,  in  other  words,  a  bookstore  owner 

becomes  a  member  of  both,  really. 

EPSTEIN:   Right,  right.   He  becomes  a  member  of  the  local, 

and  then  he  becomes  a  member  of  the  national. 

GARDNER:   As  opposed  to  with  the  Antiquarians,  isn't  the 

chapter  related? 


EPSTEIN:   Yes.   The  Antiquarians  has  chapters.   The  ABA 
encourages  regional  groups,  but  it's  not  responsible  for 
them.   The  ABA  very  much  encourages  groups  to  organize-- 
and  they'll  sometimes  help  them  organize--but  they  do  not 
become  officially  a  branch.   In  other  words,  a  group  of 
ABA  members  in  Southern  California  can  get  together  and 
do  the  things  that  the  ABA  might  suggest,  but  they  are  not 
a  branch  of  the  ABA.   They're  a  regional  group  of  members; 
they  have  no  official  standing.   But  ABA  cooperates.   Like, 
we  have  a  regional  meeting  of  the  ABA  from  time  to  time. 
Well,  the  local  members  get  together,  form  a  committee, 
and  it's  practically  the  same  committee  as  the  local 
Southern  California  Booksellers  Association,  practically 
the  same  group.   But  they  have  no  official  capacity.   The 
Southern  California  group  of  booksellers  has  no  official 
connection  with  the  ABA.   But  when  necessary,  they  will 
do  work  for  the  ABA,  because  they're  the  same  people  in- 
volved.  Practically  everyone  in  the  Southern  California 
Booksellers  Association  is  a  member  of  the  American  Book- 
sellers Association.   It's  a  wise  policy  for  the  American 
Booksellers,  the  national  ABA,  to  follow,  because  other- 
wise they  would  have  to  police  all  these  regional  things 
and  it  would  take  away  from  their  main  aim,  what  they're 

I  have  here  a  few  notes  of  some  of  the  original  people, 
I  here  have  a  copy  of  the  minutes  of  the  August  28,  1952: 


"A  Report  of  the  Reorganization  Coininittee,  presented  to 
the  August  28,  1952,  meeting  of  the  Southern  California 
Booksellers  Association.   The  Reorganization  Committee 
recommends  the  following  .  .  ." — president,  vice-president, 
and  so  forth —  .  .  .  "these  five  members  will  comprise  the 
Board  of  Directors.   The  following  members  are  recommended 
for  nomination  to  these  offices:   a)  President,  Louis  Epstein; 
b)  Vice-President,  Paddy  Paddock;  c)  Secretary,  Otis  Yost; 
and  d)  Treasurer,  Lloyd  Severe;  e)  Bob  Campbell"--!  don't  know 
what  his  title  is.   It's  something  or  other. 
GARDNER:   Where  were  Paddy  Paddock  and  Otis  Yost  from?   I 
don't  remember  those  names. 

EPSTEIN:   Paddy  Paddock — I've  never  considered  him  really 
serious  as  a  bookseller.   He  had  a  stationery  store  and 
bookstore  in  Glendale.   And  he  carried  a  stock  of  books, 
but  stationery  was  his  principal  business.   But  he's  a  very 
aggressive  young  man--at  the  time,  young.   And  he  talked 
well  and  so  forth,  so  they  made  him  an  officer.   He  later 
became  very  much  involved  in  Republican  politics  in  Glendale. 
I  don't  think  he  ever  ran  for  office,  but  he  became  very 
political.   One  time,  at  a  meeting,  he  started  making  what 
most  of  us  thought  was  a  political  speech,  and  we  piped 
him  down. 

GARDNER:   What  about  Otis  Yost?   I  don't  recall  that  name. 
EPSTEIN:   Otis  Yost  at  that  time  was  working  for  Vroman ' s . 


GARDNER:   I  notice  that  announcement  is  on  Vroman ' s  letter- 
head, for  the  record. 

EPSTEIN:   Yes.   Vroman ' s  was  very  much  involved  then.   Well, 
at  that  time  Vroman 's  was  the  major  wholesaler  here.   Otis 
later  became  a  salesman  for  Harper  and  moved  up  to  the  Bay 
Area.   And  he  still  is.   We  just  saw  him  here  a  few  months 
ago  at  a  function,  and  he  was  very  happy  to  see  me. 

Of  course,  Lloyd  Severe  was  very  much  involved  for 
many,  many  years.   He  was  involved  both  in  the  group  and 
also  in  the  Jack  Case  program,  the  "Cavalcade  of  Books."   He 
later  became  financially  involved  in  it.   He  was  with 
Brown's  Book  Store,  in  Pasadena,  and  then  left  them  later; 
he  retired  from  there,  and  went  to  work  for  Jack  Case.   See, 
Frances  Case  died,  and  she  was  one  of  the  principal  workers. 
She  had  carried  at  least  half  of  the  load  of  the  whole  thing. 
So  when  she  died,  Jack  had  to  have  some  help.   Lloyd  Severe 
helped  him  a  lot.   Lloyd  has  helped  in  everything  in  Southern 
California  bookselling.   He  was  very  dedicated  to  the  book 
business  as  a  business.   And  he  deserves  a  lot  of  credit 
for  keeping  this  thing  going.* 

I  don't  know  what  else  I  can  tell  you  about  the  Southern 
California  Booksellers.   They  paid  their  bills.   They  went 
along.   And  we  had  good  support  from  all  the  bookstores 
of  Southern  California.   Let  me  see  what's  here. 

*   Gladys  and  Lloyd  recently  had  a  sixtieth  wedding  anniver- 
sary which  Ann  and  I  attended. — [L.E.] 


Leslie  Hood  was  very  much  involved,  set  up  some  committees, 
The  Publishers  Relations  Committee  was  Leslie  Hood,  chair- 
man.  He  was  Vroman ' s ,  you  know.   One  time,  way  back,  he 
was  with  the  Los  Angeles  News  Company;  that  was  many  years 
ago.   But  Vroman 's  had  a  wholesale  house,  and  he  ran  it. 
Tough  guy,  but  he  was  a  pretty  good  bookseller. 

On  the  Publishers  Relations  Committee — Leslie  Hood, 
Walter  Martindale,  Bob  Campbell,  Virgil  Ruick.   I  think 
you  heard  me  mention  Virgil  before.   He  was  with  Fowler's. 
A  very  fine  man,  very  fine  man.   He  died  much  too  early. 

The  Publicity  Committee  was  Harry  Shelton--he  also 
was  one  of  the  owners  of  Vroman ' s--and  Mrs.  [Marjorie] 
Dysinger  of  Whittier  Book  Shop,  and  Bob  Campbell.   The 
Membership  Committee  is  Paddy  Paddock,  Otis  Yost,  [Willard] 
Marriner  (Marriner  has  a  bookstore  down  in  the  Laguna  area 

somewhere;  I  don't  know  whether  his  bookstore  still  exists 
or  not),  Lee  Scott  (I  think  he,  too,  was  a  salesman  for 
Vroman' s),  Mr.  [Richard  J.  ]  Pick  of  Pick's  Book  Shop  in  San 
Bernardino.   He's  long  since  retired.   Well,  that  gives 
you  pretty  much  the  story  of  the  Southern  California  Book- 
sellers Association. 

GARDNER:   Well,  maybe  next  we  can  talk  about  your  partic- 
ipation in  the  ABA. 

EPSTEIN:   Oh,  my.   I  think  my  wife  could  tell  you  probably 
more  about  that  than  I. 
GARDNER:   How  far  back  does  it  date,  first  of  all? 


EPSTEIN:   Membership  dates  way  back,  but  the  participation 
dates  back  about  thirteen  years.   Let's  see,  let's  go  back- 
wards.  Well,  my  memory  for  dates  has  never  been  good. 
GARDNER:   Why  don't  we  turn  it  off  for  a  second.   [tape 

EPSTEIN:   You  asked  me  about  my  activities  in  the  American 
Booksellers  Association,  and  how  did  they  come  about.   Like 
all  those  things,  they  evolved.   Number  one,  I  was  active 
in  the  local  group,  and  a  certain  amount  of  publicity 
reaches  out  and  gets  into  the  Publisher' s  Weekly,  and  the 
name  becomes  a  little  known.   One  of  the  principal  things 
that  might  have  caused  the  directors  of  the  American  Book- 
sellers Association  to  think  of  me  as  a  future  director  was 
an  event  that  occurred  in  1955  which  was  under  the  auspices 
of  the  American  Booksellers  Association.   It  was  what  they 
call  a  regional  meeting.   They  started  program  meetings  in 
various  areas  of  the  country,  and  all  the  members  of  the 
American  Booksellers  Association  would  gather,  and  they'd 
have  a  business  meeting  for  one  day  or  two  days.   In  this 
instance,  I  think  it  was  a  two-day  meeting.   And  you  know, 
we'd  have  a  dinner,  and  all  the  booksellers  would  get  to- 
gether.  And  the  executive  director  of  the  ABA  came  out, 
and  his  secretary,  and  they'd  tell  us  how  to  set  up  the 
meetings.   And  they  had  discussion  panels  of  various  topics, 
I  was  on  one  of  the  panels.   And  it  was  a  panel  pertaining 


to  discounts,  and,  well,  primarily  to  shipping,  receiving, 
and  so  forth.   A  lot  of  things  overlapped,  but  what  we  were 
talking  about  were  the  problems  the  booksellers  had  with 
the  publishers,  that,  if  they  would  do  certain  things — do 
better  bookkeeping,  do  better  reporting — the  trade  as  a 
whole  would  benefit.   They  would  benefit  just  as  much  as 
the  publishers.   The  waste  of  time  that  lack  of  system 
creates — that  time  wasted,  that  effort  wasted,  writing 
back  and  forth,  not  having  the  invoice  on  time,  and  all 
these  many,  many  problems — poor  packing.   And  I  was  on 
one  of  the  panels.   Not  only  was  I  on  one  of  the  panels, 
but  I  participated  quite  a  good  deal  in  discussion.   And 
I  spoke  out.   I  probably  spoke  out  maybe  more  than  I  should 
have,  but  I  felt  very  strongly  about  those  things.   I  ex- 
pressed my  opinion,  and  I  didn't  hesitate  to  criticize.   I 
mean,  I  tried  to  make  the  criticism  fair.   But  you  get  car- 
ried away,  apparently.   You  know,  you  start  building  up  a 
case  the  same  as  anyone  else. 

But  at  any  rate,  I  must  have  left  a  good  impression  on 
the  executive  director,  and  George  O'Hara,  who  was  at  that 
time  one  of  the  salesmen — I  think  at  that  time  he  was  with 
Farrar  Rinehart--came  to  me  after  the  meeting.   And  he  said, 
"Louis,  you  did  a  marvelous  job."   I  was  chairman  of  the 
panel,  and  I  had  participated.   He  said,  "You  did  a  mar- 
velous job  with  that  panel."   And  he  was  good  friends  with 
Joe  Duffy.   Duffy  was  the  executive  director.   And  I  think 


he  must  have  spoken  to  Duffy--and  I  got  along  very  well 
with  Duffy,  too.   Duffy  also  congratulated  me  on  how  well 
I  handled  myself.   By  no  means  am  I  a  speaker,  but  I  speak 
out  when  I  have  to.   Now,  a  few  months  later,  I  was  in- 
vited to  be  on  the  board  of  the  American  Booksellers  Associa- 
tion.  I  think  I  started  on  the  board  in  1956.   And  then  I 
stayed  on  the  board.   I  became  an  officer,  a  vice-president, 
second  vice-president,  and  so  forth.   Finally,  in  1964,  I 
was  elected  president. 

And  when  I  would  go  back  to  meetings  two  or  three  times 
a  year,  go  back  to  New  York,  the  people  on  the  board  of  the 
American  Booksellers  Association — at  least  the  board  that 
I  sat  on  all  along — we  worked  very  hard.   And  we  took  all 
the  problems  very  seriously.   When  I  first  came  on  the 
board,  we  had  very  little  money;  the  organization  had  very 
little  money  because  the  expenses  would  eat  up  the  dues. 
We  had  to  keep  a  permanent  office  in  New  York.   Well,  it's 
a  national  organization.   The  mailings,  and  whatever — a  lot 
of  expenses.   And  we  ran  the  convention.   Our  principal 
source  of  income  was  not  from  dues,  but  from  the  profits 
of  the  convention.   Well,  for  quite  a  while  the  profits 
of  the  convention  were  very  slim.   But  as  the  book  business 
expanded — during  that  period  between  the  late  fifties  or 
early  sixties  and  the  seventies,  the  book  business  has  ex- 
panded tremendously.   I  don't  know  if  you're  aware  of  that: 
the  paperback  explosion,  and  the  best-seller  explosion,  and 


whatnot.   The  total  voliame  of  books  expanded,  and  there 
were  a  great  many  more  new  publishers.   So  there  was  more 
demand  for  space  at  our  convention.   And  as  the  demand  for 
space  became  greater  and  the  publishers,  for  a  while  there, 
became  more  affluent,  we  raised  our  dues.   And  the  organiza- 
tion began  to  build  up  a  reserve.   By  the  time  I  retired  as 
president,  we  had  quite  a  bit  of  money — well  over  $150,000 
in  assets,  in  actual  cash  assets.   So  they  started  doing 
other  things. 

But  speaking  of  my  work  on  the  American  Booksellers 
Association:   it  was  arduous  at  times.   Certain  problems 
would  come  up  with  publishers,  and  certain  things,  as  a 
trade  organization,  you're  not  allowed  to  do,  as  I  men- 
tioned to  you  before.   And  we  were  just  stymied  how  to 
act.   We  had  to  act  as  individuals,  but  if  we  could  spread 
the  word.  ...   So  many  individuals  started  protesting  on 
their  own  that  we  solved  a  lot  of  problems  in  a  quiet  way. 
One  of  the  nicest  things  we  did  was  [that  we]  created  the 
publisher-bookseller  relations  committee.   We  created  the 
committee  about  the  third  or  fourth  year  I  was  on  the  board. 
And  it's  amazing  how  many  problems  we  solved  by  sitting  down 
on  opposite  sides  of  a  table — either  have  a  lunch  first  or 
dinner  afterward — and  one  to  one,  friendly  basis.   Nobody 
blew  their  stacks,  like  you  do  get  up  at  a  panel  meeting 
sometimes.   You  create  an  antagonistic  feeling.   Although 


there  is  an  antagonism — buyer  and  seller — always;  one 
always  wants  to  get  the  best  possible  deal,  one  side  or 
the  other.   Nevertheless,  it  should  not  be  an  antagonism 
that  is  total,  especially  in  the  book  business,  because 
you  can  only  buy  Macmillan  books  from  Macmillan,  and  you 
can  only  buy  Random  House  books  from  Random  House,  and  they 
can  only  sell  them  to  booksellers.   And  if  we  take  their 
books  and  don't  push  them--hide  them  in  a  corner — they 
know  they're  not  going  to  sell  any  books.   So  they  have 
to  keep  up  a  reputation.   So  there's  a  mutual  necessity 
for  creating  a  working  relationship.   And  it,  to  my  mind, 
is  such  a  stupid  thing.   The  problems,  one  by  one,  are  not 
major.   All  together  they  become  major.   Well,  occasionally 
there  are  major  problems.   Some  new  publisher  appoints  a 
person  who  has  never  been  in  the  book  business,  doesn't 
understand  the  book  business,  and  he  lays  down  a  set  of 
rules  which  are  totally  unfit  for  the  book  business.   May- 
be he  came  out  of  the  grocery  trade  or  a  large  manufacturing 
establishment.   One  person  came  out  of  Singer  Sewing  Machine, 
Well,  it's  a  great  big  company.   They  manufacture  computers 
and  everything.   Incidentally,  we  just  recently  got  a  per- 
son from  Singer  Sewing  Machine  who's  now  the  head  of  the 
book  division  of  Dayton-Hudson,  a  chap  by  the  name  of 
Floyd  Hall. 
GARDNER:   Is  that  so? 
EPSTEIN:   So  there's  an  idea  what  poor  Elliot  Leonard  has 


to  get  along  with.   I'm  glad  I'm  not  there.   So  we  formed 
this  cominittee,  and  it  became  one  of  the  most  important 
committees,  talking  out  problems  with  publishers.   Also 
when  I  used  to  go  to  the  conventions--I  say  "used  to"; 
I've  only  missed  one  so  far--I  used  to  get  a  lot  of 
difficulties  settled  in  the  aisles,  talking  to  the  pub- 

GARDNER:   Lobbying. 

EPSTEIN:   Lobbying.   I'd  get  them  aside  and  talk  to  them 
and  say,  "Look.   Listen  to  me  for  a  minute."   And  I 
would  draw  them  a  diagram.   "You  don't  want  to  give 
me  this.   This  other  publisher  gives  me  this,  so  I  do 
a  better  job  for  him.   This  company  gave  me  advertising 
allowances,  so  what  happened?   We  found  out  that  every 
bookstore  in  the  community  benefits  by  an  ad  run  under 
my  name.   The  only  advantage  I  get  out  of  the  ad  is  that 
people  who  haven't  got  a  regular  bookstore  who  might  want 
to  mail  in  an  order  will  send  it  to  me  because  my  name  is 
on  it.   But  for  that,  I  do  all  the  work  for  you  with  the 
newspaper.   You  don't  have  a  thing  to  do  with  it.   You 
just  give  me  the  copy,  give  me  the  money,  and  we  will  set 
it  up  for  you. "   And  we  had  to  convince  them.   It  took  us 
years  to  do  that.   And  things  of  that  nature,  or  shipping 
charges,  we  would  try  to  make  a  standard.   And  that  is  the  purpose 
of  an  organization:   to  control  their  own  members;  to  teach 
their  own  members;  and  to  create  a  certain  amount  of  public 


relations  for  the  trade  as  a  whole,  for  books;  and  to 
support  things  pertaining  to  books,  like  Book  V7eek, 
National  Book  Week  for  libraries--support  libraries, 
support  the  National  Book  Award  and  certain  things  of 
that  nature;  to  fight  for  favorable  postage  rates  and 
freight  rates  wherever  we  can  (we  have  a  representative 
in  Washington);  copyright — well,  we're  not  that  much  con- 
cerned with  copyright,  except  there  are  areas  in  which 
the  retail  bookseller  is  concerned  with  copyright.   So 
this  was  the  purpose  of  the  organization,  and  I  learned 
all  those  things,  gradually.   I  think  I  sat  on  the  board 
for  nine  years,  president  for  two  years,  and  chairman  of 
the  board  for  two  years.   So  I  had  that  relation  over  a 
period  of  thirteen  years.   And  that  thirteen  years,  I 
think  the  book  business  made  its  greatest  strides  in  dollar 
volume.   I  certainly  don't  take  credit  for  that. 
GARDNER:   Just  coincidental. 

EPSTEIN:   The  change  in  the  book  business.  .  .  .   And  there 
were  a  lot  of  problems  that  came  up  because  of  it,  especially 
with  the  new  publishers.   We  had  to  keep  our  director — give 
him  directives  from  the  board.   It's  an  important  job,  sit- 
ting on  the  board  of  the  American  Booksellers  Association. 
It's  important  because  it  represents  such  a  great  number  of 
booksellers,  and  booksellers  are  definite  assets  to  the 
cultural  well-being  of  this  country.   We  tried  to  educate 
them  to  be  better  booksellers,  to  be  better  businessmen. 


We  created  a  lot  of  programs  that  were  excellent. 

Now  Joe  Duffy  has  died.   He's  the  guy  I  worked  with. 
We  became  very  close  friends.   I  showed  you  a  picture  of 
him  sitting  by  the  pool,  I  think.   Now  they  have  a  new 
executive  director  [Roysce  Smith],  and  they're  doing 
very  well.   And  incidentally,  Elliot  Leonard  just  com- 
pleted a  two-year  term  [as  president] ;  he  just  left  office 
at  the  last  convention--so  that  Pickwick  has  had  two  presi- 
dents in  a  relatively  short  period  of  time. 

GARDNER:   V-Jhich  I'm  sure  is  unique  among  Southern  California 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  it  is  unique  that  there  were  two  so  close  to- 
gether from  Southern  California.   And  perhaps  I  shouldn't 
say  it,  but  the  eastern  booksellers  don't — well,  they're 
less  provincial  now  than  they  were.   But  the  New  England- 
New  York  bunch--it  was  really  tough  on  a  westerner.   And 
I  was  surprised  when  I  was  picked  for  president.   You  know, 
you  don't  politick  for  it,  and  I  was  very  pleased,  and  very 
proud,  and  very  gratified. 

GARDNER:   What  is  the  political  process  by  which  the  president 
is  chosen? 

EPSTEIN:  The  president  appoints  a  nominating  committee — on 
which  he  does  not  sit — of  three  people.  And  they  appoint  a 
man  to  be  president. 

GARDNER:   Is  it  usually  taken  from  the  board? 
EPSTEIN:   Oh,  yes.   I  mean,  there's  no  reason  why  it  shouldn't 


be,  because  they're  the  experienced  people.   For  instance, 
I  sat  on  the  board  for  nine  years,  which  is  the  maximiim 
you  can  sit  on  the  board  unless  you  become  an  officer  or 
president.   It's  only  fair  and  logical,  because  to  get  a 
man  green  from  the  outside--number  one,  he's  got  to  learn 
the  ropes.   It  took  me  maybe  two  years.   Sitting  on  my 
first  two  years  on  the  board,  I  had  to  be  quiet  because 
I  didn't  know  the  background  of  all  the  things  that  led 
up  to  what  they  were  talking  about.   So  it  takes  at  least 
two,  three  meetings--unless  you're  very  forward--before 
you  step  out  and  say  something,  unless  it  happens  to  be 
in  an  area  in  which  you're  very  professional.   We've  had 
our  problems  on  the  board.   People  became  unhappy  and 
criticized  the  ABA  for  certain  things--the  way  we  run 
our  convention. 

GARDNER:   What  are  the  criticisms? 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  especially  newcomers,  people  who  don't 
understand  the  purpose  of  the  organization  and  don't  under- 
stand the  value  of  the  organization,  they  will  join  the 
American  Booksellers  Association  and  come  to  a  convention 
thinking  that  overnight  they'll  become  book  people,  that 
the  whole  convention  will  be  tied  to  their  desire  to  learn 
the  basics  of  bookselling.   Well,  that's  not  what  the  con- 
vention is  for.   One  woman  in  particular  wrote  a  very,  very 
nasty  letter  to  the  Publisher' s  Weekly.   She  was  from  Long 
Beach,  incidentally.   I  was  president.   And  I  didn't  hear 


about  the  letter  till  just  before  it  was  published.   The 
Publisher' s  Weekly  sent  a  copy  to  Joe  Duffy  to  get  somebody 
to  make  a  reply.   The  letter  said  that  she  had  been  in  the 
book  business  now  for  a  period  of  about  five  months,  and 
she'd  read  about  the  convention,  that  the  convention  was 
going  to  give  her  all  kinds  of  classes  in  how  to  sell  books, 
Well,  she  went  to  the  convention.   She  said  nobody  paid 
any  attention  to  her.   She  was  invited  to  a  first-timers'/ 
and  she  was  told  that  she  can  stop  any  director  at  any 
time.   We  announce  that:   go  and  ask  questions  of  the 
publishers  who  are  exhibiting.   At  any  rate,  she  went 
on  and  on  in  a  tirade  that  the  whole  thing  was  run  for 
the  publishers:   the  publishers  get  the  best  seats  at 
the  dinners,  the  publishers  will  only  talk  to  the  top- 
notch  booksellers  or  the  largest  booksellers,  and  nobody 
would  talk  to  her,  and  the  publishers  threw  parties  for 
everybody,  the  pxiblishers  even  hired  girls  to  be  hostesses 
at  the  parties.   Which  in  itself  is  okay.   Here's  a  pub- 
lisher having  a  big  party;  he's  got  to  have  somebody.   But 
she  insinuated  they  were  there  for  a  purpose. 
GARDNER:   Did  they  invite  her  to  the  parties? 
EPSTEIN:   Everyone  was  invited.   Everyone  registered  gets 
an  invitation.   The  publisher  will  give  them.   And  even  if 
you're  not  invited,  you  see  a  party  going  on  at  those  con- 
ventions, you  walk  in.   Lord  knows  how  many  gate-crashers 
come  to  the  hotel  to  get  good  and  drunk  at  those  places. 


Nobody  asks  any  questions.   You  just  walk  in,  say  "Hi," 
and  grab  a  drink,  and  that's  all.   So  you  invent  some- 
thing.  If  a  guy's  a  gate-crasher,  he  knows  how  to  get 

At  any  rate,  this  woman — it  was  the  most  horrible, 
unjust  letter.   And  so  I  sat  down  and  wrote  a  letter  back 
for  the  ABA.   I  said,  "Look,  I've  been  going  to  conventions 
for  all  these  many,  many  years,  since  before  I  was  a  member 
of  the  board.   I  don't  get  treated  any  differently  than  I 
was  the  first  time.   I  used  to  come  in;  I'd  walk  down  the 
aisles.   I  would  learn  by  asking  a  question  or  two  and 
talking  to  other  booksellers.   If  I  needed  any  help,  there's 
100  people  I  could  go  to  and  ask  for  help.   Stop  anybody." 
And  I  said,  "In  my  case,  I  feel  that  I've  gotten  a  great 
deal  out  of  every  convention.   It's  certainly  broadened 
my  outlook.   I  talked  to  booksellers  who  were  doing  this, 
that,  and  the  other.   We'd  get  up  when  they'd  have  panel 
discussions  for  two  days."   I  said,  "I  just  don't  under- 
stand this.   And  as  far  as  getting  along  with  publishers, 
accusing  the  publishers  of  treating  big  booksellers  better 
than  the  small  ones,"  I  said,  "look,  I've  been  through  it 
all  the  way  up."   And  I  said,  "I  didn't  notice  where  the 
publisher  treated  me  any  differently  when  my  volume  went 
over  a  million  than  they  did  when  my  voliome  was  100,000  or 

And  they  get  criticism  like  that,  all  unnecessary 


criticism.   But  apparently,  that's  the  end  of  the  glass 
that  some  people  look  through,  the  wrong  end  of  the  tele- 
scope.  They  expect  too  much.   Well,  this  woman  apparently 
expected  to  become  a  full-fledged  bookseller  in  three 
nights.   But  she  came  to  a  sad  end.   This  is  really  sad. 
She  died,  I  think  of  cancer.   I  was  going  to  go  up  to  see 
her,  but  she  went  out  of  business.   I  met  her  only  once. 
I  met  her  one  time  after  that.   I  never  met  her  before 
that.   It  was  at  a  place  where  I  couldn't  get  away  to 
talk  to  her.   It  was  at  an  affair.   I  would  have  liked 
to  talk  to  her.   But  she  dropped  out  of  the  business  any- 
way.  Her  whole  attitude  was  wrong.   I  don't  think  she'd 
have  succeeded  in  any  business. 

Well,  that's  the  American  Booksellers  Association. 
It's  a  good  organization.   Right  now  it's  embarked  on  a 
program  of  teaching  professional  bookselling — which  we 
wanted  to  do  for  many  years,  but  we  didn't  have  the  staff 
nor  the  money.   Before  Joe  Duffy  died,  they  made  a  deal 
with  the  Association  of  College  Bookstores.   They  had  a 
program  going,  so  they  combined  the  two  programs,  and  this 
was  very  successful.   They've  been  spending  a  lot  of  money 
on  it.   As  a  matter  of  fact,  I  think  last  year  the  ABA  came 
up  with  almost  zero  profit  because  they  spent  so  much  money 
on  the  school  and  other  programs.   As  I  told  them,  they'd 
better  not  go  back  to  operating  off  the  fat  we  helped  build 
up.   It's  dangerous.   True,  I  mean  that.   But  I  think  it's 
in  good  hands  now. 


AUGUST  13,  1974 

GARDNER:   You  were  about  to  tell  me  about  the  chap  who 
is  president  now  of  ABA. 

EPSTEIN:   Yeah.   Dick  Noyes  of  Colorado  Springs,  another 
Western  man.   I  remember  when  he  came  on  the  board--very 
intelligent,  a  relatively  younger  man.   He's  forty-two 
or  three.   And  he  and  his  wife  run  a  very  nice  store  in 
Colorado  Springs.   We  visited  them  just  a  couple  of  weeks 
ago.   We  were  in  Denver.   We  had  been  in  Denver  before, 
and  he  heard  about  it,  and  he  pushed  me  into  the  ground 
because  I  didn't  go  the  extra  hundred  miles  to  visit  him. 
I  promised  him  next  time  I  was  in  Denver  I  would  visit 
him,  so  we  did.   And  we  had  a  very  nice  time  with  him. 
It's  an  excellent  store  for  a  small  community.   And  he 
runs  it  very  well,  carries  a  very  good  stock,  and  [he's] 
very  businesslike.   And  financially  he's  doing  extremely 
well.   He  mentioned  the  kind  of  lease  he  had,  and  it's 
out  of  this  world.   Rents  now  for  most  booksellers  are 
extremely  high--well,  like  all  rents,  I  suppose.   But  he 
has  a  very  beautiful  lease,  which  he's  had  for  some  time, 
and  which  goes  on  for  some  time.   But  we  had  a  nice  visit 
with  him.   He's  aggressive  enough  to  say  what  he  has  to 
say  and  recognize  truth  from  fiction.   He'll  make  a 
good  president. 


GARDNER:   I  know  how  attached  you  always  were  to  Pickwick. 
So  what  were  some  of  the  things  that  you  did  during  your 
term  as  president  of  ABA  that  took  you  away  from  Pickwick? 
EPSTEIN:   What  other  things?   Well,  the  organization  has 
a  program  to  follow.   They  have  problems  come  up,  member- 
ship problems,  finances.   Problems  come  up  with  the  pub- 
lishers— how  much  to  spend  for  this,  that,  or  the  other, 
how  much  to  spend,  for  instance,  to  start  the  school. 
GARDNER:   Did  you  do  much  traveling  around  the  country, 
things  like  that?   What  were  some  of  the  things,  during 
your  two  years? 

EPSTEIN:   For  me,  getting  away  from  Pickwick  was  always 
inconvenient.   But  by  the  same  token,  I  always  did  what 
I  had  to  do.   We  went  to  board  meetings  twice  a  year.   I 
never  liked  New  York,  and  I  still  don't,  so  if  we  had  a 
board  meeting  on  Friday,  I  would  leave  Thursday,  get  there 
Thursday  evening,  spend  the  night;  and  immediately  after 
the  board  meeting  on  Friday,  by  six  o'clock,  I  was  on  the 
plane  on  the  way  home.   And  then  when  I  was  on  the  Execu- 
tive Committee,  then  I  would  have  to  come  in  for  an  extra 
day  because  we  would  meet  a  day  before  the  board.   So  I 
would  have  to  spend  two  days.   But  that's  the  most  time 
I  would  spend  in  New  York.   Occasionally  there  would  be 
something  else  that  would  keep  me  in  New  York  an  extra 
day.   But  then  they  had  regional  meetings,  two  a  year,  in 
one  part  of  the  country  or  another;  and  we  adopted  a  system 


where  the  president  of  the  organization  would  go  to  that 
meeting  with  the  director.   Originally,  the  first  regional 
meetings  we  had,  only  the  director  would  come  out  with  a 
secretary  to  help  run  the  thing.   Later  on,  they  decided, 
on  my  suggestion,  that  it  would  be  very  nice  if  the  presi- 
dent would  appear  at  those  meetings.   And  I  was  not  presi- 
dent at  the  time,  but  I  thought  it  would  be  good  for  the 
organization,  for  the  people  who  don't  come  to  the  conven- 
tions, to  meet  the  president.   We'd  get  a  little  extra 
publicity  out  of  it,  and  I  thought  the  organization  would 
become  more  cohesive--which  turned  out  exactly  right.   So 
we  had  the  regional  meetings,  and  I  had  to  go  to  those.   I 
used  to  take  Ann  to  most  of  those.   Those  used  to  take  two 
or  three  days. 

Then  there's  correspondence  back  and  forth,  and  tele- 
phoning back  and  forth,  with  the  problems  that  occur,  mem- 
bership problems  and  such.   It  took  a  great  deal  of  time. 
But,  look,  it's  something  you  want  to  do,  and  you  do  it, 
and  I  certainly  don't  regret  it.   I  enjoyed  it.   All  the 
things  in  life  you  do  interfere  with  something  else  you 
might  do.   Some  you  like  to  do  better,  you  do  better  than 
others.   I  enjoyed  the  work  in  ABA,  enjoyed  it  very  much. 
And  I  think  it  did  a  great  deal  for  me  because  I  was  not 
much  of  a  traveler.   I  never  got  around  too  much.   It 
helped  broaden  my  outlook  tremendously--!  mean,  when  I 
talked  with  booksellers.   Some  of  them  had  businesses 


that  had  been  established  for  fifty  to  a  hundred  years. 
And  I  always  thought  they  were  almost  superhuman.   And 
I  discovered  that  in  some  respects  they  were  not  as  good 
booksellers  as  I,  so  it  gave  me  a  great  deal  more  confi- 
dence, built  me  up  and  encouraged  me  to  do  bigger  things 
which  I  might  have  been  fearful  of  doing.   With  confidence 
comes  the  will  to  do,  as  a  rule--to  expand.   As  long  as  we 
had  only  one  store,  we  expanded  our  business  within  that 
store  by  doing  things  we  might  have  been  afraid  to  do  had 
I  not  seen  the  world  more — if  you  follow  what  I  mean.   So 
the  ABA  did  a  great  deal  for  me,  and  I  think  I  did  a  little 
bit  for  it. 

GARDNER:   Bob  Campbell  was  president  of  ABA  after  the  late 

EPSTEIN:   Bob  Campbell  was  president,  but,  oh,  at  least 
twenty  years  before  I. 

GARDNER:   How  come  he  was  participating  in  it  then,  and  you 
even  really  a  part? 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  Bob  always  has  been  a  joiner.   And  I  wouldn't 
say  that  he  participated  in  that  as  a  joiner,  but  it  was  a 
different  kind  of  an  organization  then.   It  was  almost  a 
closed  club.   I'm  not  knocking  Bob,  but  that's  the  way  the 
organization  was.   Their  goals  were  nowhere  near  the  goals 
that  we  had  during  the  time  I  served  on  the  board.   And 
even  now  the  goals  are  totally  different.   And  the  book 
business  was  different  in  those  days.   I  pointed  out  a 


picture  to  you  there  where  there  were  three  past  presidents, 
including  Bob  Campbell,  and  that  was  my  first  attendance  at 
a  convention.   And  sure  enough,  fifteen  or  so  years  later, 
I  became  a  past  president.   So  now  that  whole  picture  is 
four  past  presidents. 

GARDNER:   What  other  Southern  California  people  have  been 
presidents?  Are  you,  Elliot  Leonard,  and  Bob  Campbell  the 
only  ones? 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  there's  a  chap  here  who  was  president,  I 
think,  even  before  Bob  Campbell,  when  he  was  in  business 
in  New  York.   But  he  was  not  anybody  I  would  consider  a 

GARDNER:   He  was  not  a  Southern  California  bookseller. 
EPSTEIN:   But  for  the  record,  he  lives  out  here  now;  he 
was  a  salesman  out  here  after  he  left  New  York.   He  left 
the  retail  business  and  went  to  work  for  a  publisher.   Karl 
Placht.   German — very  nice  person.   He  was  sent  out  here  by 
Brentano's  to  run  the  Brentano  stores.   When  they  tried  to 
break  in  here  many  years  ago — which  is  a  totally  different 
Brentano's  than  it  is  now.   That's  all  I  can  recall. 
GARDNER:   So  you're  the  only  ones.   Well,  I  think  that  covers 
ABA  then. 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  I  think  so.   One  can  go  on  and  talk  about  it 
endlessly.   It's  an  important  organization  for  the  book  trade. 
The  membership  has  grown  tremendously.   Their  services  to  mem- 
bers and  some  of  their  publications  are  very  helpful.   They 


publish  a  handbook  which  saves  a  tremendous  amount  of  time 
for  book  dealers,  an  informational  handbook.   And  then  they 
have  access  to  other  information  if  they  need  it,  from  the 
home  office.   They  provided  all  these  extra  services.   Then 
they  have  something  which  is  called  Single  Copy  Order  Plan-- 
SCOP--which  was  devised  during  the  time  I  was  on  the  board. 
I  helped  plan  it,  and  I'm  certainly  not  alone  in  it.   It 
was  a  mutual  effort.   It  allows  a  bookseller  to  order  one 
copy  of  a  book  at  a  much  better  discount  than  he  ever  had 
before.   But  this  is  what  he  has  to  do:   he  has  to  send  a 
check  with  the  order,  and  the  order  is  shipped  directly  to 
the  customer.   So  just  one  transaction:   no  bookkeeping 
for  the  publisher,  no  bookkeeping  for  the  bookseller.   So 
that  made  a  very  unprofitable  transaction  a  little  bit  more 
profitable.   And  it's  to  the  great  benefit  of  the  smaller 
bookstores,  because  the  larger  booksellers,  the  real  large 
stores,  can't  use  it.   They  can  if  they  set  up  a  special 
system,  and  some  of  them  have,  where  they  have  a  special 
check  drawn.   You  have  to  have  a  special  checking  account, 
a  special  type  of  check  drawn.   Large  corporations  don't 
like  that.   They  don't  like  somebody  in  some  department, 
or  in  some  branch,  signing  checks.   So  they  don't  use  that. 
It's  a  boon  to  the  smaller  bookseller.   Also  to  the  pub- 
lisher:  they  can  give  a  better  service  to  the  bookseller, 
and  they're  no  money  out.   They  got  their  money  right  with 
the  order.   A  number  of  other  things,  they've  developed. 


GARDNER:   V7ell,  I'd  like  to  get  back  to  Pickwick  for  a 

EPSTEIN:   That  again? 

GARDNER:   Well,  we  covered,  really,  up  until  the  early 
fifties.   I  don't  think  we  discussed  the  part  from  1952 
or  '53,  say,  up  until  the  time  of  your  retirement.   The 
first  thing,  to  get  into  it  gently:   I  wanted  to  ask  you 
about  those  newspaper  articles  that  you  did  for  the  Daily 
News,  the  "Mr.  Pickwick"  column.   How  did  you  get  into  that? 
EPSTEIN:   Oh,  that.   Scott  O'Dell  was  the  literary  editor 
of  the  Daily  News  at  the  time.   And  we  used  to  meet  at 
cocktail  parties,  or  book  affairs  of  one  kind  or  another, 
and  we  talked.   We  always  discussed  the  book  business. 
One  evening,  we  were  standing  somewhere  over  a  drink--or 
sitting,  whatever — and  he  said,  "I  want  you  to  do  a  column 
for  me."   It  was  a  total  shock  to  me.   I  said,  "Look,  I'm 
a  bookseller.   I'm  not  a  writer."   I  said,  "I'm  not  a  liter- 
ary person  at  all."   "Well,"  he  said,  "Write  the  way  you 
talk."   "Oh,"  I  said,  "come  on,  Scott,"   I  said,  "I  just 
don't  know  how  to  write.   And  besides,  where  will  I  find 
the  time?"   He  said,  "Well,  you'll  find  the  time."   He  said, 
"You  just  write  about  books,  and  book  people,  whatever."   And 
you  know,  he  just  kept  after  me.   He  called  me  up  on  the 
telephone:   "What  about  it,  Louis?   When  are  you  going  to 
give  me  a  column?"   So  finally  I  said,  "Well,  you  really 


are  challenging  me,  because  I've  never  written  anything. 
I'm  not  sure  that  I  know  English  grammar  well  enough  to 
write  a  proper  paragraph."   "Well,  we'll  take  care  of 
that."   So  finally,  we  made  this  deal.   I  would  never 
review  books--that  was  not  my  forte.   I  would  talk  about 
the  book  business.   But  he  had  to  promise  me  that  if  the 
column  stank,  he  wouldn't  publish  it;  and  number  two,  he 
would  see  to  it  my  grammar  was  at  least  half-decent.   He 

And  you  know,  we  started  writing  that  column,  and  it 
just  kept  going.   And  I  learned  something.   I  learned  that 
term  "deadline."   And  I've  learned  from  that.   I'd  heard 
before  and  I've  heard  since  from  people  who  write  the  news- 
papers or  anything  with  deadline--magazines  or  whatever — 
that  you  never  do  anything  until  the  last  deadline.   I  had 
to  mail  my  column  on  a  Monday  so  it  would  get  there  by 
Wednesday.   He  had  to  have  it  by  VJednesday.   And  I  would 
never  sit  down  to  write  the  column  till  midnight  Sunday, 
[laughter]   I  may  have  had  a  few  notes  scribbled  out,  and 
many  times  Ann  would  come  to  me  and  say,  "Why  don't  you 
go  to  bed?"   And  there  I'd  be  poking  out  that  column.   I 
wouldn't  go  to  bed  until  two,  three,  four  o'clock.   I'm 
not  a  very  good  typist,  and  I'm  a  slow  thinker,  and  so 
it  used  to  take  me  about  two,  three,  four  hours.   Some- 
times I'd  have  a  very  nice  subject,  and  I ' d  go  through  it. 


It  was  really  interesting  work  (except  that  it  was 
work  for  me--writing  is  not  easy  for  me)  because  I  had  a 
chance  to  mention  things  that  the  average  person  doesn't 
read  about — authors  coming  through,  or  what  other  book- 
sellers were  doing.   I  made  it  a  point  to  talk  about  other 
booksellers  and  their  business.   It  wasn't  a  hogging  column 
for  the  Pickwick  at  all.   Occasionally  I  would  get  a  fan 
letter,  which  was  wine  for  me. 

And  then  really  I  became  tired.   So  I  begged  off,  and 
he  said,  "Well,  do  it  every  other  week,  and  I'll  get  Leslie 
Hood  of  Vroman ' s  to  do  it  one  week."   And  we  went  along  that 
way  for  a  while.   And  the  paper  sort  of  petered  out,  too. 
But  it  was  fun.   It  was  something  I  had  never  anticipated 
ever  being. 

GARDNER:   We've  mentioned  briefly  your  son  Aaron's  partici- 
pation at  Pickwick,  but  I'd  like  to  talk  about  it  in  more 
detail  because  I  think  it's  really  important. 
EPSTEIN:   Well,  Aaron  had  the  hardest  job  of  anybody  in  the 
business — he  had  to  work  for  his  father. 
GARDNER:   How  did  he  come  to  it  in  the  first  place? 
EPSTEIN:   Well,  he  graduated  UCLA  business  administration 
course.   He  went  to  work  for  Sears  Roebuck.   He  was  there 
about  six  months.   And  he  learned  a  great  deal  about  mer- 
chandising there.   Aaron  gets  enthusiastic  about  something 
he  likes,  and  he  liked  it  there.   So  there  was  this  business 


of  the  Pickwick  growing,  and  he  starting  out  on  a  career. 
Which  way  to  turn?   Well,  I  always  told  my  boys,  both 
Eugene  and  Aaron,  that  I  would  love  to  have  them  in  the 
business,  but  never  to  go  into  business  just  to  please 
me.   If  they  had  other  things  to  do,  go  ahead  and  do 
them,  as  long  as  they  did  a  good  job. 

Well,  then  he  finally  decided  to  come  into  business. 
We  taught  him,  little  by  little.   In  those  days,  we  had 
old  books.   We  started  him  in  with  that,  and  then  he  went 
into  the  new-book  business  in  various  departments  of  the 
store,  and  then  to  advertising.   He  sold  books  on  the  floor. 
He  worked  hard;  he  worked  just  as  hard  as  any  of  the  rest 
of  them.   He  didn't  want  to  work  any  less  hard  than  the 
rest.   And  he  learned  the  business,  but  he  fell  into  the 
groove.   His  job  became  promotion;  he  liked  that.   And  he 
did  an  excellent  job  of  promotion.   Buying  was  done  by 
myself,  and  then  he  started  to  participate  in  the  execu- 
tive area.   I  ran  the  whole  thing.   I  was  the  buyer;  I  ran 
the  floor,  with  the  help  of  Stackhouse  and  a  couple  of  others 
But  I  was  mixed  into  everything.   I  had  to  hire  the  book- 
keeper, and  I  had  to  do  the  executive  work,  and  we  got  to- 
gether for  planning  sessions.   And  gradually  I  tried  to 
trim  off  a  lot  of  that.   And  I  did,  to  Aaron — well,  some 
of  it  to  Stackhouse,  but  Stackhouse  was  involved  in  re- 
mainders.  He  worked  in  planning  and  other  areas,  but  his 


main  interest  was  remainders.   At  one  time,  when  we  had 
old  books,  he  was  in  charge  of  that. 

Aaron  fell  into  the  open  area  of  promotion.   And  he 
did  an  excellent  job  of  that.   That  continued  more  and 
more  as  the  business  grew,  as  we  opened  branches.   He 
had  more  and  more  to  promote.   And  he  set  up  the  advertis- 
ing department.   He  hired  Nick  Clemente,  who's  still  there. 
(They  wanted  Nick  to  go  back  to  Minneapolis,  but  he  said 
he  didn't  want  to  live  in  Minneapolis.   He  said  he  came 
out  from  New  York  to  live  in  California.   He  said  he 
wouldn't  go.   So  they  made  a  special  dispensation  for 
him.   And  one  of  these  days  he  may  lose  his  job  because 
he  won't  go  to  Minneapolis.   They  may  decide,  "Well,  heck, 
if  you  won't  come  here,  then  we  don't  need  you."   But  at 
any  rate,  at  least  for  the  present.  .  .  .)   Aaron  hired 
him;  Aaron  set  up  the  basics  of  it.   All  the  Pickwick  ads 
you  see  around  here  emanate  from  Aaron's  policy--he  was 
the  one,  together  with  me,  of  course--of  putting  the  pres- 
sure on  the  publisher  to  try  the  experiment:   "Just  give 
us  one  ad--let's  try  it  and  see  what  happens--on  a  co-op 
basis."   They  were  very,  very  reluctant  to  come  out  here  with 
co-op  money.   They  would  spend  it  in  New  York  on  the  New 
York  Times .   Well,  New  York  Times  goes  all  over,  and  it's 
nowhere  solidly.   And  he  was  the  one  who  kept  writing 
letters,  and  I  kept  putting  pressure  on  the  salesmen  to 
tell  their  sales  managers.   And  little  by  little  we  got 


one,  then  we  got  two,  then  we  got  another  one,  then  we  got 
to  the  point  where  they'd  want  an  ad--they'd  call  us:   would 
we  please  run  an  ad?   Mostly  that  was  Aaron's  work. 

So  he  participated  greatly  in  that.   He  participated 
in  many  other  things--!  mean,  payrolls,  and  planning  of 
money,  and  this,  that,  and  the  other,  what  to  do  with  money. 
He  actively  participated.   Well,  we  sat  down  and  we  talked 
these  things  out.   But  that  was  his  strong  forte.   And  I 
kept  on  buying.   And  this  went  on  along,  and  we  started 
expanding.   I  mentioned  how  we  managed  the  first  branch? 
GARDNER :   No . 

EPSTEIN:   I  thought  I  told  you  that. 
GARDNER:   I  don't  think  so. 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  that  is  an  interesting  story.   I  don't  know 
if  it  has  any  historical  value.   We  got  a  phone  call  from 
Mr.  [Robert  E.]  Getz  of  the  May  Company.   Bob  Getz  is  the  son  of 
the  Getz  who  had  the  Union  Bank.   He's  the  grandson  of 
Kaspare  Cohn.   Did  we  mention  Kaspare  Cohn  before? 
GARDNER:   Well,  we  talked  about  this  off  the  tape. 
EPSTEIN:   Well,  to  digress.   People  always  interest  me, 
sometimes  in  an  area  which  is  far  different  than  the  pro- 
fession.  Bob  Getz,  number  one,  we  formed  a  very  nice  friend- 
ship.  Occasionally  I  call  him  up  and  either  have  him  buy  me 
a  lunch  or  I'll  buy  him  a  lunch.   Neither  of  us  are  too  poor 
to  buy  a  lunch  for  ourselves,  but  it's  a  starting  point. 
"You  owe  me  a  lunch."   So  at  any  rate,  people  interest  me, 


and  the  Jewish  community  interests  me.   Well,  Kaspare  Cohn — 
you  will  find  in  any  book  of  the  history  of  Los  Angeles — 
was  an  early  pioneer  here.   He  had  a  retail  store,  supplies 
and  retail  goods  which  he  sold  to  ranchers  and  others  who 
would  come  in.   And  his  particular  group  of  followers  were 
the  sheepmen,  sheepherders .   And,  you  know,  the  sheepherders 
go  away  for  six  months  at  a  time.   So  they  would,  number  one, 
buy  their  stores  from  him,  their  supplies,  whatever;  and 
they  would  leave  their  money  with  him  while  they  were  away. 
And  then  they'd  draw  on  it.   If  they  needed  something,  they 
might  send  somebody  after  it  with  a  note.   They'd  draw  on 
it.   And  so  in  effect  he  became  their  banker.   And  from  that 
grew  a  bank.   And  from  that  bank  grew  the  Union  Bank.   And 
he  became  a  wealthy  man.   And  I  don't  want  to  forget,  also, 
that  from  that  man  grew  the  Kaspare  Cohn  Hospital,  which 
was  on  Whittier  Boulevard,  east  of  Indiana  Street.   I  think 
it's  still  there,  but  being  used  for  something  else.   And 
from  the  Kaspare  Cohn  Hospital  grew  the  Cedars  of  Lebanon 
Hospital.   And  the  Cedars  of  Lebanon  are  now  the  Cedar-Sinai 
organization.   So  you  see  the  direct  chain  of  philanthropy 
from  Kaspare  Cohn,   By  no  means  was  he  the  only  philanthropic 
person  in  Los  Angeles,  but  he  was  one  of  the  Jewish  philan- 
thropists who  became  philanthropists  after  they  made  money-- 
with  the  Hellmans,  and  the  Newmarks ,  and  the  Lazards.   That 
whole  early  Jewish  community  here  was  mixed  so  well  with 
the  regular  community,  with  the  general  community. 


Well,  Bob,  to  get  back.  .  .  .   How  this  relates  to  Pick- 
wick, whoever  listens  will  often  wonder.   You'll  have  to 
call  me  "the  Rambler,"  the  way  I  ramble  all  over  the  place, 
from  Jewish  history  to  the  May  Company  and  Pickwick  Bookshop 
branches.   At  any  rate,  Bob  Getz  is  the  grandson  of  Kaspare  Cohn. 
GARDNER:   No  longer  Jewish,  I  assiame. 

EPSTEIN:   Yes  and  no.   Certainly  not  active,  but  with  his 
background,  how  can  he  escape?   His  mother  was  married  to 
Ben  Getz  and  she  had  been  a  Cohn.   He  was  with  the  Union 
Bank.   But  when  they  brought  in  the  new  management  at 
the  Union  Bank  a  few  years  ago,  he  took  exception  to  some- 
thing or  another--which  is  not  unusual,  you  know.   So  he 
left  the  bank,  and  he  got  a  job  at  the  May  Company  as  the 
vice-president  for  real  estate — May  Company  of  Southern  Cali- 
fornia.  Yeah.   I  think  it's  only  Southern  California.   Now 
he's  semi-retired.   Although  he  was  Southern  California,  he 
traveled  all  over  the  country  for  them. 

We  got  a  call  one  day.   This  was  when?   Just  about  '64. 
Would  I  be  interested  in  opening  a  store  in  a  shopping 
center?   So  I  said,  no,  no.   So  he  said  to  me,  "Well,  you 
answered  that  so  casually,  I'm  not  sure  you  know  what  I'm 
talking  about."   "Well,"  I  said,  "You  asked  me  if  I  wanted 
to  open  a  store  in  a  shopping  center."   He  said,  "Yes."   "And 
I  said,  no."   And  he  said,  "I  don't  usually  get  such  a  casual 
and  definitive  answer."   He  told  me  who  he  was.   I  had  no 
ideas  of  expanding  and  opening  another  store.   Oh,  occasionally 


we  talked  about  it,  but  we  were  so  busy.   We  were  working 
so  hard  with  what  we  had.   Aaron  was  up  to  his  neck,  and 
I  was.   He  said,  "Well,  maybe  you  don't  know  what's  hap- 
pening in  the  retail  trade."   And  I  said,  "That's  prob- 
ably correct.   I  have  my  nose  to  the  grindstone  here.   I 
know  what's  happening  in  the  book  business."   So  he  said, 
"Well,  I've  never  run  across  a  guy  like  you.   If  I  could 
explain  to  you,  I'm  sure  you  would  be  interested.   I'll 
call  you  again.   You  might  be  more  receptive."   And  sure 
enough,  a  week  later,  he  called  me  again;  and  he  said, 
"You  know,  I've  been  thinking  about  you."   He  had  a  very 
friendly  voice,  pleasant.   He  said,  "I've  been  thinking 
about  you,  and  you  worry  me."   He  said,  "I  know  your  busi- 
ness.  There's  a  specific  reason  I'm  calling  you,  because 
you  run  a  good  business.   But  I've  never  seen  a  business- 
man that  didn't  want  to  get  ahead,  improve  his  business  and 
create  more  business."   "Well,"  I  said,  "that  may  be;  but 
the  book  business  is  a  very  jealous  business,  and  it  takes 
all  my  time.   And  to  expand  it.  ..."   "Well,"  he  said, 
"look.   I'm  a  customer  of  yours.   Will  you  do  me  the  favor 
of  coming  down  to  ray  office?   I  can't  bring  what  I  want  to 
show  you  with  me.   And  let  me  explain  what  we're  doing,  what's 
happening  in  the  retail-book  business  as  regards  shopping 
centers.   And  then  you  might  be  interested."   I  told  him 
my  son  and  I  were  working  very  hard.   He  said,  "Bring  your 


son  with  you  and  anybody  else  you  want  to,"   So  I  said, 
"Well,  if  you  put  it  on  that  basis--a  customer  asks  me  a 
favor,  a  courtesy--!  certainly  will  come." 

So  we  showed  up  at  his  office,  and  he  shows  us  this  whole 
plan  of  this  great  big  shopping  center  out  here  in  the  Valley, 
the  first  one  in  the  Valley.   And  explains  all  these  things, 
and  he  says  how  many  hundreds  of  dollars  worth  a  square  foot 
of  business  can  be  done  in  these  stores,  what's  happening  in 
shopping  centers  in  other  parts  of  the  country,  how  this  is 
the  coming  way  of  doing  business.   He  still  wasn't  making  too 
much  of  an  impression  on  us  because  there  was  no  real  desire 
on  our  part  to  expand.   Money  wasn't  the  principal  thing,  at 
the  moment,  that  we  were  thinking  about;  it  was  how  much  more 
work  it  was  going  to  be.   That  was  worrying  us.   Well,  he  went 
on  and  told  us,  explained  to  us  all  these  things.   We  still 
weren't  too  impressed. 

About  a  week  later,  he  called  us--could  he  come  over 
and  bring  us  a  small  set  of  plans?   By  that  time,  we  rec- 
ognized him  as  a  nice  person  and  a  genuine  person  who  had 
a  real  desire  to  have  us  in  there.   He  gradually  broke 
down  our  idea  of  not  expanding.   He  turned  us  over  to 
"maybe  we'll  expand,  if  the  thing  is  right."   And  then  it 
was  his  job  to  sell  us  the  idea  of  taking  a  store, 
with  the  hopes  of  making  x  number  of  additional  dollars. 
And  he  went  on  and  told  us  that  we  could  do  half  a  million 
dollars  worth  of  business  at  least,  or  at  least  $350,000 


worth  of  business  the  first  year. 
GARDNER:   Was  this  Topanga? 

EPSTEIN:   Topanga  Plaza,  yeah.   I  said,  "Okay,  I'll  listen. 
How  do  we  do  that?"   "Well,"  he  said,  "Fine.   You  know  how 
to  run  a  bookstore.   I  don't  have  to  tell  you  how."   "That 
part  is  right.   But  what's  the  mechanics  of  it?   What  do 
we  pay  you?   How  much  money  do  we  have  to  put  in  for  fix- 
tures and  things  like  that?"   "Okay,  fine."   "T^d  then, 
where  in  the  thing  is  this  thing  going  to  be?"   Well,  he 
got  us  that  far,  and  he  was  telling  us  that  we  would  do 
$300,000  worth  of  business--we  would  do  $100  a  square 
foot.   $350-,  $400-,  $500,000.   Actually  there  was  no 
limit.   He  says,  "Look,  I'll  take  you  to  shopping  centers 
where  the  stores  are  doing  fantastic."   And  this  is  true. 
I'd  begun  to  hear  about  these  things.   I'd  never  been  in 
a  shopping  center. 

So  we  sit  down  with  a  plan,  and  he  picks  out  a  20-  X 
100-foot  store.   He  said,  "I  want  you  to  take  this  store." 
I  said,  "That's  only  20  X  100.   Bob,  that's  only  2,000 
square  feet.   If  I  do  $100  a  square  foot,  which  is  very 
high  for  books,  I'll  do  $200,000."   I  said,  "I  don't  need 
a  $200,000  business.   It  would  take  too  much  of  our  time. 
And  if  I  make  10  percent,  that's  $20,000,  and  I'll  have  to 
give  the  government  $10,000.   So  for  $10,000  I  don't  want 
to  be  bothered." 


So  he  sort  of  looked  at  me.   He  could  recognize  my 
arguments.   "Well,"  he  said,  "what  do  you  want?"   He  was 
sort  of  exasperated.   So  I  pointed  at  that  store  at  the 
corner.   I  said,  "I  want  40  feet  right  at  this  corner." 
He  said,  "You  can't  have  it."   I  said,  "Why?"   He  said, 
"You  can't  have  it."   He  said,  "I  can't  give  you  that 
space.   The  place  is  spoken  for  by  other  people."   I 
said,  "It  doesn't  show  on  the  map  that  anybody's  rented 
it  yet."   He  said,  "You  don't  understand.   I  just  can't 
give  it  to  you."   I  said,  "Okay,  Bob,  thanks  very  much. 
I  don't  need  a  little  bit  of  business.   I  struggled  all 
my  life  to  make  a  little  bit  of  money,  and  I  finally  made 
it,  and  I'm  above  that  now.   I  don't  want  to  go  back  to 
that."   So  he  said,  "You're  the  most  impossible  man."   I 
said,  "Bob,  look.   I  want  a  place  where  I  can  do  a  lot 
of  business.   That's  exactly  what  you  told  me.   That's 
why  I'm  here.   But  I  can't  take  a  small  store.   I  wouldn't 
know  how  to  run  a  small  store."   [tape  stopped] 

So  we  fought  back  and  forth.   We  left  that  day,  and  he 
was  angry  with  me.   I  wasn't  overly  happy  about  it  either, 
because  I  didn't  want  a  small  store.   A  small  store  would 
be  difficult  for  us  to  run.   We  called  back,  or — I  forget — 
Andy,  Aaron,  called  him  or  I  called  him.   So  he  called  back 
and  he  said,  "Well,  maybe  we'll  have  to  get  together.   Come 
on  down  to  the  office."   So  I  went  down  there.   He  said, 
"What  the  hell's  so  magic  about  that  40  feet  right  on  that 


corner?"   I  said,  "Nothing  magic.   I'll  take  42  feet. 
I'll  take  38  feet.   But  the  magic  40 — I  had  to  give  some 
area.   But  I  don't  want  a  small  store.   I  don't  want  a 
2, 000-square-foot  store.   I  want  a  5 , 000-square-foot 
store."   (It  was  40  X  120.) 

So  we  fought  back  and  forth,  and  he  finally  gave  it 
to  me.   We  got  an  excellent  lease;  we  got  excellent  terms. 
We  finally  opened  the  store,  and  it  took  off  like  a  rocket. 
In  the  first  year  we  did  over  $500 , 000--f irst  full  twelve 
months.   Over  $600,000.   The  store  was  doing  well  over  a 
million,  until  they  opened  another  shopping  center  in 
Northridge.   That  sort  of  cut  the  business  off  that  cen- 
ter.  But  now  it's  building  back  again. 
GARDNER:   Another  Pickwick  in  Northridge? 
EPSTEIN:   Well,  there  is  another  Pickwick  there  now,  but 
there  wasn't  when  they  first  opened. 

GARDNER:   Oh,  it  just  pulled  from  the  shopping  center. 
EPSTEIN:   Yeah.   Shopping  centers  steal  business  from  each 
other.   But  now  Topanga ' s  building  back.   I  think  they're 
back  to  over  a  million  dollars  at  one  store--4,800  square 
feet.   A  very  interesting  story  comes  as  an  aftermath.   Of 
course,  he  was  very  pleased,  and  I  was  very  pleased.   And 
then  we  were  sold,  of  course,  on  shopping  centers.   I  had 
occasion  to  speak  to  him  about  some  mechanical  thing — 
which  was  not  in  his  department,  but  the  department  which 
was  supposed  to  take  care  of  it  wasn't  taking  care  of  it. 


And  I  couldn't  get  any  action,  so  I  called  him.   I  ex- 
plained to  him  what  it  was.   He  said,  "I'll  take  care  of 
it  for  you."   And  I  said,  "Are  you  opening  any  more  shop- 
ping centers?"   So  he  said,  "You  see,  now  you're  wanting 
to  go  into  shopping  centers."   "Well,"   I  said,  "Why  not? 
We  found  out  it's  a  good  business.   We  thank  you  for 
breaking  our  head  to  try  to  get  us  in  there."   So  he  said, 
"Well,  there  are  all  kinds  of  shopping  centers.   You  can 
get  very  hurt."   He  said,  "Maybe  we  ought  to  have  lunch 
together."   I  said,  "Okay,  come  down,  we'll  go  to  Musso's 
for  lunch."   So  during  the  lunch  we  talked  about  a  lot  of 
things.   And  he  said  to  me,  "You  know,  you  had  me  over  a 
barrel."   I  said,  "Is  that  so?"   He  said,  "Louis  Epstein 
had  the  May  Company  and  Warner  Brothers" — you  know  that 
shopping  center  is  owned  by  the  two  of  them.  May  Com- 
pany and  Warner  Brothers.   I  said,  "Louis  Epstein  had 
the  May  Company  and  Warner  Brothers  over  a  barrel? 
I'd  like  to  hear  about  this."   He  said,  "Yes."   He  said, 
"I  was  determined  to  have  a  bookstore  in  that  center.   I  felt 
a  bookstore  was  for  the  good  of  the  mix  of  the  tenants.   But," 
he  said,  "there's  only  one  bookstore  that  I  would  have."   He 
said,  "You  have  no  idea  how  many  bookstores  I've  turned  down. 
I've  turned  down  a  chain  from  Minneapolis" — which  was  Dayton, 
Dalton — "and  local  dealers."   He  said,  "I've  turned  down 
twelve  or  more  booksellers  that  wanted  to  come  in.   But 
there's  only  one  that  I  wanted.   And  that  was  your  store, 


because  I  knew  your  merchandise,  I  know  your  store,  I've 
been  a  customer  there  for  years."   He  said,  "For  that  loca- 
tion, all  the  other  people  on  the  committee  who  were  work- 
ing on  the  center  to  help  rent  it — we  never  give  a  loca- 
tion like  that  to  a  local  dealer.   We  give  it  to  some  chain 
that  follows  us  all  over  the  country."   May  Company  has  a 
lot  of  shopping  centers  all  over  the  country."   He  said, 
"I  took  a  beating — you  have  no  idea — by  putting  you  in 
there."   I  said,  "Is  anybody  unhappy  about  it  now?"   He 
said,  "No.   Nobody's  unhappy.   We  are  not  unhappy.   But 
we  have  a  lot  of  unhappy  people  in  the  chains  that  said, 
'How  come  you  gave  that  location  to  a  small  merchant  in- 
stead of  giving  it  to  us?   We  follow  you  all  over.   Where's 
he  going  to  help  you?"   "Well,"  I  said,  "We  may  go  with 
you."   And  since  then,  we've  been  into  four  of  their  centers, 

But  that  was  how  the  first  Pickwick  expansion  came 
about.   Of  course,  Aaron  was  involved  in  all  the  negotia- 
tions, and  so  forth.   And  then  we  opened  at  San  Bernardino; 
we  opened  in  Bakersfield;  we  opened  Carlsbad;  we  opened 
San  Diego.   San  Diego  is  another  deal  that  Bob  Getz  in- 
sisted that  I  take. 

GARDNER:   Where  in  San  Diego  is  it? 

EPSTEIN:   Mission  Valley  Center.   He  had  a  Ford  [Automobile] 
salesroom  in  the  center,  and  it  doesn't  belong  in  a  center. 
So  he  was  waiting  for  them  to  give  up  their  location.   They 
negotiated  them  out  of  there.   He  called  me  up  and  he  said, 


"Louis,  move  right  in."   And  we  got  to  the  point  that 
we  didn't  even  have  to  talk  terms.   He  knew  exactly  what 
he  wanted  to  charge  me,  and  he  knew  exactly  what  I  wanted 
to  pay,  and  it  was  a  handshake  deal.   Somebody  drew  up 
the  lease,  and  it  always  worked  out.   If  anything  came 
up,  there  was  no  fighting,  no  arguments,  no  threats  of 
lawsuits.   We  dealt  with  other  people  that--oh,  just 
horrible.   One  man  in  particular.   This  man  in  particular 
went  as  far  as  to  cut  off  a  piece  of  our  signature  and 
paste  it  onto  somewhere  else.   If  that's  not  dirty.  .  .  . 
And  we  caught  him  at  it,  fortunately.   He  did  that  to 
impress  an  insurance  company  that  I,  personally,  was  in- 
suring the  leases,  which  was  not  so.   We're  incorporated. 

So  this  expansion  went  on,  and  the  book  business 
generally  kept  expanding.   In  spite  of  the  fact  that  we 
opened  several  stores  around  us  in  the  Valley,  we  thought 
we  would  lose  a  lot  of  business  by  opening  in  the  Valley. 
I  thought  we'd  lose  at  least  10,  15  percent  of  our  busi- 
ness.  Stackhouse  thought  so;  Aaron  thought  so.   We  gained 
so  many  customers  there,  and  some  of  our  customers  would 
buy  books  in  both  places.   But  our  volume  kept  growing 
even  in  Hollywood,  kept  right  on  growing — not  quite  as 
fast,  but  then  it  started  perking  up  again.   And  then 
the  Valley  just  kept  growing  and  growing  and  growing. 
GARDNER:   What  was  your  competition  in  the  Valley  at 
that  time?   There  really  weren't  any  major  bookstores, 


were  there? 

EPSTEIN:   No,  there  were  no  major  bookstores,  but  there 
were  several  small  ones.   I  don't  even  remember  now  who 
they  were.   There  was  Lewis,  but  Lewis  wasn't  competition. 
Lewis  is  still  operating,  but  he  had  a  different  type  of 
business  entirely.   He  sells  teacher's  books  and  teaching 
aids  and  things  of  that  nature.   But  there  were  several 
little  bookstores.   They  survived.   And  since  then  a  number 
of  others  have  opened  up  and  are  doing  fairly  well.   A 
personal  bookshop  can  compete  with  a  large  chain  anytime — 
if  they're  properly  financed  to  begin  with.   Where  the 
personal  small  bookshops  opening  break  down  is  in  under- 
financing.   They  invest  in  their  original  stock,  and  they 
have  to  wait  so  much  time  to  get  some  of  it  back  that  they 
have  a  hard  time  keeping  up  with  it.   And  they  have  to  build 
up  their  inventory,  especially  on  a  rising  market  of  prices. 

So  from  there  on,  we  just  kept  branching  out  till 
Dayton-Hudson  came  in  and  asked  to  buy  us  out. 
GARDNER:   How  many  stores  did  you  have  at  the  time  that 
Dayton-Hudson  first  approached  you? 

EPSTEIN:   We  had  seven  operating  and  three  on  the  boards. 
GARDNER:   Were  they  the  first  chain  to  contact  you  about 
EPSTEIN:   Yes. 

GARDNER:   And  at  that  point,  there  was  not  yet  the  trend, 
was  there? 


EPSTEIN:   Not  quite,  no.   No.   There  were  several  people 
that  had  two  or  three  or  four  stores.   Lew  Lengfeld  had 
a  number  of  stores  out  here.   He  has  Hunter's,  you  know. 
And  the  Hoyt  people — Walden — they  had  a  few  stores.   They 
had  quite  a  number  of  stores  scattered  aro\and,  but  they 
hadn't  come  into  this  market  yet.   You  know,  the  Walden 
is  now  owned  by  Broadway. 

GARDNER:   Weren't  they  originally  in  Arizona,  or  something 
like  that? 

EPSTEIN:   No,  originally  they  were  from  New  England,  and 
then  they  hit  a  lot  of  college  towns  in  the  East.   They 
were  branching  out,  but  their  business  started  in  a  dif- 
ferent way.   They  had  a  lot  of  department-store  concessions. 
They  had,  oh,  I  don't  know,  100  or  more  of  those — 150.   But 
they're  usually  very  small.   Then  they  started  opening  up 
stores.   And  then,  I  guess,  the  Broadway,  seeing  what 
happened  to  us,  decided  they  better  get  into  that  busi- 
ness.  So  they  bought  the  Walden  chain. 

GARDNER:   Of  course,  Broadway's  gone  through  tremendous 
expansion,  too.   It's  now  tied  up  with  Hale. 
EPSTEIN:   Yes.   Now  the  whole  name  is  changed.   The  cor- 
porate name  is  Carter-Hawley . 

While  we  were  concluding  our  deal  with  Dayton-Hudson, 
Bob  Getz  and  I  were  talking  about  something.   "Louis,  is 
it  too  late  to  talk  to  you  about  selling  your  store?"   He 


said,  "It's  supposed  to  be  a  secret.   I  happen  to  know 
that  you've  got  a  deal  going."   "Well,"  I  said,  "I  would 
hate  to  disturb  it  now."   "Well,"  he  said,  "I  can  under- 
stand that."   But  I  don't  know,  maybe  I  should  have  dis- 
turbed it,  because  I  think  I  would  rather  be  connected 
up  with  the  May  Company  group  than  the  others.   Not  that 
they  haven't  treated  me  fairly,  but  I  think  May  Company 
might  have  created  a  different  type  of  chain,  much  sooner. 
Now,  they  combine  the  Pickwick  stores  with  the  Dalton  stores. 
It's  a  separate  corporation  called  Dayton-Hudson  Booksellers. 
The  Pickwick  name  does  not  go  any  further  north  than  Fresno. 
All  the  stores  in  the  West,  in  my  opinion,  should  have  been 
Pickwick  stores  because  the  name  is  so  well  known  out  West. 
But  no,  they  decided  they  wanted  the  Dalton  name.   Now 
they're  talking  of  eliminating  the  Pickwick  name  altogether. 
GARDNER:   Is  that  so? 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  over  a  period  of  time,  because  they  want  to 
do  national  advertising.* 

*   The  Pickwick  name  is  definitely  being  phased  out.   The  Mr. 
Pickwick  logo  has  been  dropped  from  all  use,  and  all  the  ads 
are  now  B.  Dalton,  with  Pickwick  below.   Soon  Pickwick  will 
be  in  smaller  type  and  a  little  later  not  mentioned  at  all. 
All  the  new  stores  in  this  area  have  their  signs  as  B.  Dalton 
with  a  tiny  line  Pickwick.   So  save  all  your  old  Pickwick 
bookmarks.   In  a  hundred  years  they  will  be  collector's 
items. — [L.E. ] 


AUGUST  13,  1974 

GARDNER:   The  next  item  is  the  one  we  just  left  off  on 
the  other  side,  and  that's  the  moment  that  Dayton-Hudson 
approached  you  with  interest  in  buying  Pickwick.   Was  that 
the  first  time  that  anyone  had  approached  you  with  some- 
thing like  that? 

EPSTEIN:   Yes.   That  was  the  first  time  anybody  approached 
us  to  buy.   Oh,  over  the  years,  every  once  in  a  while,  I'd 
get  discouraged,  and  I'd  say,  "Well,  I'm  going  to  sell  out." 
One  time,  Walter  Martindale  thought  of  buying  us.   Another 
time  a  group  of  actors  and  writers  were  going  to  buy  us  out. 
One  of  their  agents  came  around  to  see  us,  and  we  progressed 
quite  a  bit  toward  negotiations.   They  offered  a  good  round 
sum  of  money  for  that  time — the  business,  of  course,  later 
became  worth  much  more  than  that--and  we  actually  started 
negotiations.   And  then  they  began  to  nibble  away  on  their 
offer,  and  we  dropped  that.   I  mean,  there  never  was  any 
real  necessity  for  me  to  sell,  but  every  once  in  a  while  I'd 
get  discouraged  about  something  or  other,  or  tired,  or  the 
whole  situation  would  be  overwhelming.   But  it  would  always 
pass  off,  and  I'd  get  back  to  my  normal  again,  so  we'd  dis- 
cuss things. 

The  period  of  which  I'm  talking  about  now,  we  already 
had  seven  stores  going  and  three  on  the  drawing  board.   And 


it  was  getting  quite  a  problem  for  us.   We  were  expanding 
very  rapidly.   We  had  not  yet  used  any  outside  capital,  but 
we  could  see  in  the  very  near  future,  if  we  kept  expanding, 
we  would  have  to.   And  I  always  dreaded  that.   I  always 
dreaded  having  to  go  to  the  bank.   We  never  borrowed  money 
from  a  bank  at  any  time  we  were  in  business.   Even  when  we 
expanded  our  real-estate  area,  we  had  enough  cash  money  to 
make  a  down  payment.   [tape  stopped]   As  I  say,  we  could 
see  finance  problems  coming  ahead.   Not  that  we  couldn't 
handle  them--we  had  ample  assets  on  which  to  borrow,  but 
borrowing  didn't  ever  appeal  to  me,  as  I  said.   And  to  be 
absolutely  honest  about  the  whole  matter,  I  was  never  cut 
out  to  be  a  top-notch  executive;  I  am  the  kind  of  an  oper- 
ator who  always  liked  to  do  things  himself,  or  have  his 
finger  in  everything.   And  I  could  see  problems  for  myself 
and  problems  in  organization  that  we  were  not  familiar  with — 
which  might  turn  out  to  be  very  difficult  to  handle.   And 
then  our  ambitions  were  never  that  very,  very  great.   The 
assets  of  the  corporation  had  grown  to  a  very,  very  sizable 
sum  of  money,  dollars,  in  value. 

Well,  just  about  that  time,  we  had  a  visitor  come  from 
Dayton-Hudson — their  manager  of  their  whole  chain  [Dick  Hagen] 
They  had  the  Dalton  chain,  which  they  had  started  a  year  be- 
fore out  of  Minneapolis,  and  they  had  about  four  or  five 
stores  at  the  time.   And  they  were  trying  to  get  leases  in 
this  area.   We  knew  that  they  were  trying  to  find  leases  in 


this  area,  and  some  of  the  developers  told  them,  "Well, 
what  do  we  need  you  for?   We've  got  a  good  operator  in 
Southern  California  that  does  excellent  volume,  brings 
us  good  rents,  pays  his  bills  on  time,  gives  us  no  prob- 
lems.  Why  should  we  give  you  space?"   And  they  were  turned 
away  from  a  couple  of  shopping  centers  with  just  that  type 
of  talk.   So  I  suppose  they  did  the  next  best  thing  they 
could  do:   they  came  to  look  to  see  what  it  was,  probably 
with  the  idea,  well,  "If  you  can't  beat  them,  join  them"-- 
that  type  of  philosophy.   Which  is  strictly  all  right.   So 
this  chap  came  in  one  day.   He  introduced  himself,  and  he 
wanted  to  know  if  he  could  look  around.   I  said,  "I'd  be 
happy  to  have  you  look  around."   I  mean,  any  visiting  book- 
man, I  was  very  proud  to  show  him  around — a  little  bit  of 
boastfulness  in  my  nature.   I  showed  him  around,  and  [he 
was]  very,  very  impressed.   He  asked  if  I  would  tell  him 
the  volume.   I  said,  "We  have  no  secrets.   We  do  x  number 
of  dollars  in  this  store,  x  number  of  dollars  in  that  store." 
And  he  went  away  quite  impressed.   The  following  week  I 
got  a  thank-you  note  from  him,  and  the  following  week  I 
got  a  letter  that  the  vice-president  of  the  company,  one 
of  the  Dayton  brothers  [Kenneth],  was  coming  out  here.  .And 
he  had  been  told  about  the  store;  he  would  like  to  see  it. 
So  I  said,  "Fine.   Send  him  out.   Have  him  drop  in.   I ' d  be 
glad  to  have  him  drop  in."   So  I  showed  him  around.   He  was 
very  nice,  very  impressed.   He  thanked  me.   A  few  days  later 


I  got  a  nice  formal  thank-you  note  from  him,  a  very  formally 
polite  and--ccmpany  manners,  you  might  say.   And  by  the  time 
he  left--and  from  the  kinds  of  questions  that  he  asked  me, 
the  kinds  of  things  that  he  wanted  to  discuss — I  got  an 
impression  that  maybe  it  might  be  just  more  than  sight- 
seeing.  The  impression  was  confirmed  a  week  later  when 
they  said  that  the  other  brother  [Bruce  Dayton] ,  the  presi- 
dent of  the  company,  would  like  to  come  out  and  see  it.   So, 
obviously,  we  told  him  he  could,  and  said  we'd  be  very  happy. 
So  he  came  out.   We  showed  him  around,  and  he,  of  course, 
asked  kind  of  other  questions. 

GARDNER:   And  they  still  hadn't  said  anything  to  you? 
EPSTEIN:   No,  no.   But  by  the  time  the  second  brother  came 
around — the  president--!  knew  that  it  was  more  than  just 
curiosity  to  see.   He  knew  by  that  time  that  I  probably 
understood  that.   I  showed  him  around,  then  we  went  to 
lunch.   When  we  came  back  from  lunch,  he  said,  "Well,  Louis, 
you  must  be  guessing  pretty  well  what  might  be  in  our  minds." 
1  said,  "Yes.   I  didn't  at  first,  but  by  the  time  I  was 
through  talking  with  Bruce  I  gathered  there  might  be  some 
interest  other  than  just  viewing."   He  said,  "Well,  to  be 
very  honest  with  you,  we've  tried  to  find  out  as  much  as 
we  could  about  the  Pickwick,  and  we  could  hear  nothing  but 
the  nicest  things  in  the  world.   We  talked  to  publishers 
in  New  York,  and  they  said  you  have  A-1  credit,  you're  a 
great  guy,  you're  probably  the  best  bookman  in  the  world." 


I  tell  you,  he  started  building  me  up  to  the  sky.   I  said, 
"Well,  it's  hard  to  live  up  to  the  reputation  you're  bring- 
ing me."   And  so  he  said,  "Would  you  be  interested?"   "Well," 
I  said,  "I'm  a  businessman;  I'll  listen."   So  from  there 
on.  ...   He  said,  "Well,  we'd  like  to  send  some  people 
out  here  to  compare  books  and  try  to  find  some  evaluation." 
And  then  from  there  on,  it  progressed  by  meetings  between 
their  representatives  and  our  accountant,  their  accountant. 
And  we  got  together  and  thrashed  out  a  deal.   And  they 
bought  it. 

GARDNER:   What  was  the  deal?   Or  is  that.  .  .  ? 
EPSTEIN:   Well,  I  don't  think  I  should  mention  exactly,  but 
it  was  satisfactory  to  us.   The  figures  were  satisfactory. 
And  what  happened  afterward,  good  or  bad,  is  not  their 
fault.   We  took  a  lot  of  stock  and  the  stock  went  way  down, 
as  all  stocks  have.   Maybe  theirs  probably  went  down  a  little 
more  than  most,  because  they  started  that  expansion  program. 
See,  Dayton-Hudson  was  only  in  Minneapolis.   They  were  the 
main  department-store  chain  in  the  Minneapolis  area.   And 
even  there  they  had  only  the  main  store  and,  I  think,  two 
branches.   And  then  they  bought  Hudson's  of  Detroit,  and 
that  was  a  great  drag.   It  was  at  one  time  one  of  the  finest 
stores  in  the  country,  one  of  the  biggest — probably  the 
biggest.   And  their  bigness  is  now  a  detriment  because  they 
have  this  tremendous  building  in  downtown  Detroit  and  downtown 


Detroit  is  probably  no  better  than  downtown  Los  Angeles. 
Business  no  longer  goes  there--a  certain  type  of  busi- 
ness.  But  they've  made  a  turnaround  there.   But  they've 
expanded  in  the  outside  areas,  and  they're  doing  as  well 
as  other  department  stores  are  doing. 

But  because  of  the  tremendous  costs  they  run  into, 
they  used  up  a  lot  of  money.   I  don't  want  to  criticize 
the  top  operation  of  Dayton-Hudson,  but  I  know  in  the  book 
area,  they  were  very  slow  in  moving  it  in  the  right  direc- 
tion.  Had  they  left  it  to,  say,  Stackhouse,  Aaron,  Elliot, 
or  myself,  they  would  have  started  making  the  money  they're 
making  now  three  years  sooner,  four  years  sooner.   But  no, 
in  spite  of  the  fact  that  they  built  me  up  as  the  wisest 
man  in  the  book  business,  they  never  got  around  to  making 
their  stores  like  the  Pickwick  stores  till  just  about  two 
and  a  half  years  ago.   Now  they  have  these  running  ladders, 
books  from  floor  to  ceiling,  major  large  stocks.   The  original 
plan,  the  Dalton  plan,  was  to  have  a  minimum  of  stock.   And 
I'm  not  telling  any  secrets,  and  I  don't  tell  this  in  any 
derogatory  sense  except  to  compare  experience  with  nonexperi- 
ence.   When  they  started  a  chain  of  bookstores,  they  hired 
no  one,  not  one  single  person  who  had  ever  been  connected  in 
any  way  with  the  book  business--retail  books,  wholesale  books, 
publishing,  libraries,  nothing.   They  took  a  man  out  of  their 
lingerie  and  hosiery  department  and  told  him  to  start  a  chain 


of  bookstores.   And  he  spent  a  year  going  around  Europe 
and  everywhere.   He  came  back  with  the  idea,  sat  down  with 
an  architect,  and  they  built  almost  museum  type  of  things 
with  a  minimum  of  stock.   My  first  sight  of  one  of  those 
stores  was  in  Minneapolis  at  Southdale  shopping  center, 
which  they  own.   And  they  took  me  there  to  show  me,  when 
we  first  went  to  Minneapolis.   Aaron  was  with  me.   I  was 
taken  to  the  store,  and  the  manager  of  all  the  stores 
[Dick  Hagen]  then  showed  me  around--back  and  forth,  base- 
ment and  everything.   They  had  7,200  square  feet  of  space. 
Now,  to  a  person  who  doesn't  know  the  book  business,  or 
merchandising,  or  almost  any  other  type  of  business--you 
don't  take  7,200  square  feet  of  space  to  do  a  minimum  of 
business.   If  you  take  space,  you  take  it  with  the  idea  of 
filling  it  with  merchandise,  salable  merchandise,  and  doing 
the  maximum  possible  of  business.   So  they  had  this  7,200 
square  feet  of  space,  and  I  could  see  at  a  glance  that  the 
stock  was  nowhere  near  adequate.   The  shelves  were  poorly 
laid  out.   The  store  was  totally  impossible  to  run  as  a 
quick  merchandising  business.   They  had  an  $800  desk  for 
you  to  sit  down  and  look  at  your  book  at  with  a  chair  right 
towards  the  middle  of  the  front  of  the  store.   And  at  the 
entrance  to  the  store  they  had  a  $1,200  globe.   Now,  how 
many  $1,200  globes  are  sold  in  the  United  States  in  a  year? 
Maybe  some  large  corporation  will  buy  one  for  their  offices, 
but  just  for  that  one--and  in  the  store  right  at  the  entrance, 


Instead  of  leaving  all  their  front  with  the  most  possible 
glass,  they  purposely  closed  off  the  glass  on  one-third  of 
their  front--to  sell  books,  which  need  utmost  exposure,  they 
cut  off  one-third.   As  I  said  before,  this  man  had  an  idea 
of  making  their  stores  look  like  fine  drawing  rooms.   Well, 
people  who  come  to  shopping  centers  are  not  that  kind  of 
buyers.   It  would  be  forbidding  to  Mrs.  Jones  walking  by, 
shopping  for  kids'  shoes,  to  even  look  into  a  store  like 
that.   She  would  never  come  in;  she'd  be  afraid.   Well, 
anyway,  on  the  way  out  of  that  store,  the  man  said  he  has 
only  $65,000  worth  of  stock  in  there.   That  proved  what  I 
had  been  thinking.   And  he  said,  "We  hope  to  reach  $300,000 
this  year."   And  there  he  had  7,200  square  feet.   After  we 
walked  out  of  that  store,  he  was  telling  me  this,  so  I  said, 
you  give  me  that  store,  and  I'll  give  you  $600,000  in  one 
year."   Well,  after  I  said  it,  I  realized  that  I  was  em- 
barrassing him  in  front  of  his  boss,  so  I  tried  to  back 
away  from  that  statement.   "Well,"   I  said,  "There  I  go 
again,  boasting,"  or  something  like  that.   Ken  Dayton  said, 
"Wait  a  minute,  Louie.   You  said  that.   Do  you  really  think 
so?"   "Well,"   I  said,  "If  you're  making  a  direct  question  of 
it,  yes,  I  do."   I  said,  "You'll  have  to  change  the  pace  of 
the  store.   You'll  have  to  put  some  merchandise  in."   I 
said,  "How  do  you  expect  to  do  more  than  $300,000  if  you 
have  only  $65,000  worth  of  merchandise?"   I  said,  "You're 
a  merchant.   How  many  turns  can  you  expect  out  of  it?"   I 


said,  'You're  going  to  find  that  you're  going  to  get  fewer 
turns  than  you  expected."   They  were  expecting  five  and  a 
half  turns  a  year.   You  can't  do  that  in  the  book  business. 
Maybe  in  New  York,  where  you've  got  a  fine  wholesaler  right 
in  your  backyard,  but  even  there  you'd  have  a  very  difficult 

At  any  rate,  we  talked  about  that,  and  I  told  him.   I 
said,  "Look.   Your  shelves  are  poor."   And  I  told  him  exactly 
what  I  thought  was  wrong.   And  do  you  know,  they  didn't  do  a 
damn  thing  about  it  until  a  number  of  years  later  when  this 
chap  left  and  all  that.   So,  as  I  say,  bigness  doesn't  nec- 
essarily even  mean  creativeness .   Maybe  in  one  area  they'll 
be  very  creative,  and  in  another  area  they  will  take  an  area 
which  they're  totally  unfamiliar,  and  put  in  people  who  are 
totally  unfamiliar  instead  of  seeking  out  somebody  who  is 
familiar  and  have  him  help  set  a  policy.   And  I  told  that 
to  the  Dayton  brothers  one  time.   I  said,  "How  in  the  world 
can  you  lay  out  x  number  of  million  dollars,  give  it  to  a 
guy--to  spend  any  way  he  wants--who  has  never  in  his  life 
had  a  thing  to  do  with  a  book?" 
GARDNER:   What  was  their  response? 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  he  admitted  he  made  a  mistake.   But  he  said, 
"Well,  to  us,  it's  merchandising."   "Well,"  I  said,  "even  if 
it's  merchandising,  and  suppose  you  realize  that  after  a  year's 
time,  the  man  is  not  making  progress  and  you're  losing  all  that 
money?"   He  said,  "We're  accustomed  to  losing  money  when  we're 


planning  an  operation."   "But  there  was  no  necessity  for 
you  to  lose  money,"  I  said.   "You  sat  there  and  you  told 
me  what  a  great  bookman  I  was  and  how  I  could  help  your 
organization.   And  here  I  was  sitting  in  Los  Angeles  wait- 
ing for  the  phone  to  ring.   And  it  never  rang."   I  said, 
"There  was  no  reason  for  you  to  do  that.   You  had  me,  you 
had  Aaron,  you  had  Stackhouse,  and  you  had  Elliot  Leonard — 
all  with  proven  records--and  any  one  of  us  would  have  been 
very  happy  to  come  and  sit  down  and  help  guide  you  people. 
But  you  persist  in  losing  a  million,  $2  million,  $3  million 
year  after  year." 

But  that's  the  way  a  corporation  works.   I  mean,  to  me, 
it's  an  anomaly.   They're  smart  businessmen — the  Dayton 
brothers  are  no  fools.   But  this  was  the  smallest  portion 
of  their  business,  and  they  probably  neglected  to  even  give 
the  proper  thought  behind  it.   But  they  have  vice-presidents 
who  are  supposed  to  take  care  of  the  other  portioxis  of  the 
business.   But  I  can't  explain  it.   That's  big  business  for 

GARDNER:   If  it's  the  smallest  portion,  why  were  they  so 
interested  in  getting  into  bookshops  in  the  first  place? 
EPSTEIN:   Well,  they  hoped  to  make  it  a  national  chain,  and 
they're  progressing  toward  that.   This  year,  they'll  do  well 
over  $100,000,000  of  books. 
GARDNER:   That's  a  good  reason. 


EPSTEIN:   No,  wait  a  minute.   Am  I  right?   No,  I  think  I'm 
wrong.   I  think  it's  probably  closer  to  $60  or  $70  million. 
GARDNER:   Tell  me,  did  you  undergo  a  great  deal  of  soul- 
searching  before  you  sold? 

EPSTEIN:   Oh,  it  was  one  of  the  hardest  things  we  had  to  do. 
The  business  was  so  personal  to  so  many  people — to  my  wife, 
to  my  children,  to  myself,  to  my  entire  family.   And  to  the 
community.   Really.   The  Pickwick  in  Hollywood  is  the  most 
personal  business  you  can  think  of.   Of  course,  we  would 
tell  as  few  people  as  possible  about  it — my  attorney,  my 
accountant.   And  there  was  not  unanimity  of  mind.   To  be 
honest  with  you,  I  had  to  force  the  sale,  and  I  did  force 
it.   And  I'm  not  positive  that  I  made  the  wise  decision. 
I'm  still  not  positive.   I'm  positive  in  one  area--physically . 
I  was  sixty-six  years  old  at  the  time.   I  was  at  nerve's  edge, 
constantly.   I  couldn't  hold  my  food  many  evenings  a  week, 
simply  because  of  nervousness.   My  doctor  kept  after  me.   He 
said,  "Louis,  you're  a  very  fortunate  man,  that  you  have  a 
good  heart."   He  said,  "If  your  heart  showed  any  symptoms  of 
going  astray  or  becoming  irregular,  I  would  have  ordered  you 
to  quit  years  ago.   But  you  can't  drive  yourself.   Your 
nervous  system  will  eventually  affect  your  heart.   Cut  down, 
cut  down."   I  have  tremors  in  my  hands--which  I've  had  for 
a  long  time,  but  they  were  becoming  worse.   And  this  oppor- 
tunity came  along,  and  I  said  to  myself,  I  said  to  my  wife, 


I  said  to  Aaron,  "Look,  what  are  we  seeking?"   What  was 
our  aim?   How  much  money  did  we  aim  to  make?"   Well,  Aaron, 
for  obvious  reasons,  was  very  personally  attached  to  this 
business,  but  he  too  was  becoming  nervous--at  his  age.   I 
said,  "Andy,  you're  becoming  as  nervous  as  I  am,  at  your 
age.   And  it's  only  one  thing  that's  doing  it--the  business. 
What's  the  worth  of  it?"   I  said,  "If  I  step  out  of  there, 
you  run  it  by  yourself.   You'll  have  the  problems  you  have 
plus  all  the  problems  that  I  carried.   Then  you  will  really 
have  problems.   What  do  we  need  it  for?"   I'm  the  guy  really 
responsible.   I'm  positive  that  if  it  had  come  to  Aaron — 
Aaron  definitely  did  not  want  to  sell.   Of  course,  Eugene 
had  no  special  interest  in  the  business  other  than  that  he 
had  a  little  financial  stake  in  it,  so  he  kept  neutral. 
And  Ann — she  tried  to  keep  neutral.   She  wanted  Aaron  to 
be  happy  about  it;  she  definitely  wanted  me  out.   She  knew 
that  I  couldn't  carry  on  the  way  I  was,  and  she  knew  also 
that  if  I  maintained  a  five-cent  interest  in  the  business, 
I  would  be  there  every  day,  because  that's  the  way  I  am,  and 
that's  the  way  I  am  about  the  book  business  still.   For  good 
or  ill,  I  am  responsible  for  the  decision.   I  think  it  was 
for  the  good — if  and  when  the  stock  market  improves,  it  will 
GARDNER:   For  very  good.   [laughter] 

*   11/75.   The  stock  has  come  back  considerably  and  will  con- 
tinue to  go  up.--[L.E.] 


EPSTEIN:   But  we  weren't  sophisticated  enough  in  knowing 
when  to  sell.   The  stock  went  way  up,  and  now  it  went  way 
down.   But  we  manage  to  eat. 

GARDNER:   Now  how  about  regrets?   Any  regrets?   And  in  this 
I  also  include  things  like  seeing  what's  happened  with  the 
Pickwick  since  you  left. 

EPSTEIN:   To  use  the  word  "regrets"  in  its  full  term,  I 
would  have  to  say  no.   There  are  some  regrets.   In  total, 
there  are  no  regrets.   I  am  not  sorry  I  sold  the  business. 
I'm  sorry  that  we  didn't  sell  the  stock  soon  enough.   But 
on  the  other  hand,  if  we  had  sold  the  stock,  we'd  have  prob- 
ably taken  that  money  and  put  it  into  something  else  that 
would  have  gone  down.   So  you  have  to  be  philosophic  about 
that,  too.   As  far  as  regretting  what  happened  to  the  stores, 
yes.   I'm  sorry  to  see  that  they've  become  so  totally  im- 
personal.  I'm  sorry  to  see  that  they're  being  run  and 
bought  for  from  Minneapolis.   I'm  sorry  to  see  that  the 
service  in  the  stores  has  become  that  slow  and  that  unhappy. 
I  mean,  there  are  no  happy  people  there.   That's  a  problem. 
The  people  working  there  are  not  happy. 
GARDNER :   Why? 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  because  they  are  not  doing  creative  work. 
All  the  creative  work,  if  you  can  call  it  that--the  buying, 
the  policy  setting,  the  merchandise  mix--is  being  done  2,000 
miles  away  in  Minneapolis. 
GARDNER:   By  computer. 


EPSTEIN:   And  a  lot  of  it  is  done  by  computer.   So  you  have 
a  lot  of  people  who  might  be  bookmen--if  they  were  given  an 
opportunity  to  be  creative  in  the  book  business--who  are 
not  being  helped  to  become  bookmen.   As  a  matter  of  fact, 
they're  being  hindered  to  become  bookmen.   And  the  oppor- 
tunities for  them  to  grow  in  the  bookish  area--they  can 
grow  in  the  management  area  if  they're  good,  but  even  the 
management  of  the  stores  is  not  bookish. 

GARDNER:   Do  you  think  this  is  a  trend  in  the  book  trade? 
EPSTEIN:   It  definitely  is  a  trend  at  the  present.   Now, 
what  is  happening  [is]  (and  this  is  strictly  off  the  top 
of  the  head--it's  my  personal  philosophy,  my  personal 
thinking,  the  way  I  see  it;  I  may  be  100  percent  wrong) 
the  trend  is  definitely  for  chains.   And  the  trend  is 
definitely  for  ordering  by  computer,  because  you  start  a 
chain,  and  you've  got  twenty-five  stores.   That's  another 
area  which  was  beginning  to  bother  us.   The  detail  was  be- 
coming so  great  before  we  sold  out.   The  detail  was  becoming 
so  great  and  so  confusing  that  we  could  see  in  the  distance — 
right  now,  we  need  some  kind  of  computer  help.   And  if  it's 
anything  I  don't  know,  it's  the  computer.   And  from  what  I 
saw  the  computer  did  for  some  of  the  publishers  during  our 
time,  I  didn't  want  any  part  of  it.   So  there  that  was  in 
the  offing,  too. 

But  to  get  back  to  your  exact  question.   The  trend 
definitely  is  towards  that.   How  long  it  will  continue,  I 


don't  know.   There  are  certain  things  happening  that  may 
make  the  business  less  attractive  to  the  chains  that  are 
operating  now.   Number  one,  the  rents  they  have  to  pay  are 
becoming  fantastically  high  in  shopping  centers.   One  of  the 
reasons  they're  becoming  fantastically  high  is  because  there 
are  three  or  four  chains  competing  for  the  same  space.   So 
the  landlord  just  sits  back  there  waiting  for  the  one  who'll 
offer  him  the  most  money.   And  it  was  illustrated  to  me  by 
Mr.  Getz,  whom  we  spoke  about  earlier.   There  was  one  store  in 
Eagle  Rock.   Now  Eagle  Rock  is  no  great  shakes  for  a  shopping 
center.   It's  not  a  big  center.   But  we  wanted  to  go  in  there. 
And  then  Walden  wanted  to  go  in  there,  and  then  another  chain 
wanted  to  go  in  there.   We  thought  we  had  a  deal  going,  so  we 
called  up  there.   I  said,  "Well,  how  about  a  deal  with  you?" 
He  said,  "I  don't  think  you've  got  a  store.   I  don't  think  we 
can  give  you  a  store."   I  said,  "Why  not?"   He  said,  "You're 
not  willing  to  pay  enough  money."   I  said,  "We  offered  you  more 
than  we  ever  paid  you  at  any  other  place."   "Yes,  but,"  he  said, 
"we've  got  two  people  offering  us  more."   So  I  said  to  Bob, 
"Look,  we  can  do  the  best  job,  selling  books."   "Oh,  he  said, 
"they  can't  hold  a  candle  to  you."   "Well,  then,  why  don't 
you  give  us  the  store?"   He  said,  "Louie,  I  work  for  the 
May  Company.   And  the  May  Company's  object  is  to  make  money. 
And  they  love  to  collect  high  rents.   What  would  you  do  if 
you  sat  here  and  you  had  three  people  throwing  more  and 
more  money  at  you?   Which  would  you  take?"   He  said, 


"That's  exactly  what  we're  doing.   These  people  are  just 
throwing  money  at  us,  they  want  to  get  in  here  so  bad.   We 
all  know  you  do  a  better  job.   But  the  insurance  company 
who  loans  us  the  money,  they  want  to  get  the  biggest  rent 
schedule  they  can  on  their  books."   So  we  didn't  get  that. 

But  the  rents  are  tremendously  high.   Now,  shopping 
centers  are  beginning  to  compete  against  themselves.   There 
are  more  shopping  centers  being  opened  in  every  area,  so 
they  begin  to  compete  with  themselves.   The  labor  situation 
is  becoming  highly  competitive.   And  one  other  thing  which 
I  see  in  the  offing  is  a  discount  schedule  for  books.   The 
present  discount  schedule  is  very  much  in  favor  of  large 
buyers,  and  the  chains  are  getting  something  they're  not 
entitled  to.   I  know  what  it  is,  but  I  do  not  want  to  dis- 
cuss it  because  it's  a  dangerous  subject.   It  may  involve 
[Federal]  Trade  Commission  action  between  the  large  stores 
and  the  small  stores.   And  I'm  afraid  that  the  chain  stores 
are  going  to  be  hit  in  the  way  of  paying  for  services  that 
they're  presently  getting  and  not  paying  for.   And  the  dis- 
count relationship  may  have  to  be  ironed  out.   And  if  they 
do,  it  will  cost  them  a  lot  of  money,  cost  them  a  lot  of 
money.   When  they  started  opening  stores  in  the  hundreds — 
like  Walden  and  Dalton,  into  the  hundreds--they  began  to 
exercise  a  great  deal  of  power  over  some  publishers.   And 
they're  beginning  to  meet  some  resistance  with  the  large 
publishers.   I  can  see  a  clash  in  the  relatively  near  future. 


It's  got  to  come,  because  the  publishers  can't  keep  on 
giving  them  what  they're  giving  them.   They  can't  do  it 
legally,  and  whether  they  will  want  to  do  it  illegally.  .  .  . 
And  they're  pressing.   Well,  let's  face  it,  you  know  that 
the  bigger  a  customer  becomes — the  same  way  in  every  line — 
the  more  they'll  press  for  better  discounts  or  for  more  ad- 
vertising allowances.   So  there's  a  big  head-on  collision 
coming  which  may  cost  the  chains  a  large  amount  of  money 
in  operating  expenses. 

There  is  room,  however,  for  a  good  independent  bookstore 
in  almost  any  community,  which  can  still  give--who  will  give-- 
personal  service,  personal  attention,  and  be  willing  to  exer- 
cise some  authority  over  his  business.   He  doesn't  have  to 
wire  or  call  Minneapolis,  or  whatever  the  city,  to  find  out 
if  he  can  do  something  out  of  the  usual.   There  will  always 
be  room  for  that.   I  was  discussing  that  with  the  present 
president  of  the  ABA  when  we  visited  him  two  weeks  ago  at 
Colorado  Springs,   It's  one  of  the  things  that  we  talked 
about  at  lunchtime.   He  asked  me  whether  I  thought  that 
he  would  have  to  chain  up.   I  said  I  thought  he  would,  at 
least  in  his  own  area,  because  if  he  didn't,  there  would  be 
several  chains  coming  in  and  they  might  surround  him  and 
hurt  him.   Even  in  a  comparatively  small  area  like  Colorado 
Springs--shopping  centers  are  springing  up  all  over.   "And 
they  may  hurt  your  business.   So  if  an  opportunity  does 
come  up,  and  you  can  chain  up  in  your  own  area  without 


getting  too  far  afield,  it's  my  opinion  you  should."   With 
one  or  two  stores,  he  can  still  control  it  very  nicely.   It's 
when  he  gets  up  in  the  fifteens  and  twenties,  then  he  has  to 
have  management.   And  he  would  have  to  manage  the  management 
rather  than  the  stores.   My  big  problem  was  I  know  the  book 
business  but  I  don't  know  management.   We  got  along  very 
well  with  the  management  we  had  when  we  had  the  number  of 
stores  that  we  had.   The  trend  is  definitely,  to  answer 
the  question  again,  toward  further  chaining  up.   It  will 
eventually  reach  its  peak,  and  it  may  not  be  as  profitable 
as  it  was  with  fewer  stores. 

GARDNER:   Is  the  trend,  then,  also  out  of  the  hands  of  the 
bookmen?   You've  been  sort  of  hinting  at  that  without  really 
saying  it. 

EPSTEIN:   There  aren't  that  many  bookmen.   You  see,  the 
trouble  with  the  chains  is  [that]  they  train  managers  but 
they  don't  train  bookmen.   So  where  are  they  going  to  get 
the  bookmen?   You  see,  right  now,  Dayton-Hudson,  the  only 
bookmen  they  have,  trained  bookmen,  are  the  people  they 
took  out  of  Pickwick.   Their  major  buyers  are  Pickwick  peo- 
ple--all  trained  at  the  Pickwick.   They  took  Joni  Miller, 
Alan  Kahn,  Brian  Baxter;  Geof  Rogart  just  left  to  go  there. 
I  think  two  other  people  left;  I  can't  think  of  their 
names  at  the  moment--people  whom  I  had  not  trained.   Joni, 
Alan,  and  Brian  were  all  people  that  worked  under  me.   They 
worked  under  Elliot;  they  knew  our  system;  they  knew  our 


system  of  buying.   Alan  worked  for  us  since  he  was  fourteen 
years  old.   And  he  started,  oh,  handing  out  those  little 
bookmarks  at  the  door,  that  we  used  to.   The  purpose  was 
to  watch  people  as  they  walked  out.   And  then  he  worked 
weekends,  and  then  he  went  to  college.   He  worked  summers. 
And  finally,  when  he  was  graduating  from  college,  about  a 
year  or  so  before,  we  sat  down.   He  asked  me,  "Do  I  have  a 
future  in  the  book  business?"   So  I  pointed  to  Elliot;  I 
pointed  to  Stackhouse;  I  pointed  to  Aaron.   I  said,  "Well, 
these  guys  made  a  future  in  the  book  business.   You  can  if 
you  want  to. "   And  I  told  him  what  it  takes  to  want  to. 
You've  got  to  work  hard,  and  you've  got  to  learn  as  much 
as  possible  about  your  business,  and  just  take  hold  of  an 
area  and  do  a  good  job.   It's  that  simple.   It  takes  stick- 
to-itiveness .   He  said,  "Okay."   And  by  God,  he  did,  and 
turned  out  to  be  an  excellent  man.   He's  a  good  buyer,  good 
buyer.   He's  young;  he's  loud.   But  basically,  he's  a  good 
guy,  in  the  sense  that  he's  an  ethical  person.   He's  a  good 
person,  but  he  gets  overexcited  sometimes  and  makes  noise. 
Sometimes  he  uses  a  few  too  [many]  expletives.   But  he's 
right  in  the  generation  of  expletives.   He's  in  that  exact 
generation  that  uses  that  foul  language.   But  fortunately 
he  stayed  with  something  constructive  instead  of  destructive, 
The  language--he  adopted  that. 

So  where  are  they  going  to  get  bookmen?   Who  is  train- 
ing them?   We're  not  training  any  bookmen  here  now  anymore. 


They  don't  need  them.   All  they  need  is  people  who  manage 
the  store,  hire  and  fire,  see  that  the  cash  register  totals 
up;  and  all  the  buying  and  thinking  is  done  in  Minneapolis. 
And  every  other  chain  has  the  same  problem.   That's  one  of 
the  things  that  worries  me  about  the  book  trade:   so  many 
of  the  stores,  by  the  nature  of  their  operation,  have  to 
become,  instead  of  major  collections  of  books,  smaller 
collections  of  books,  of  best  sellers,  which  will  necessitate 
the  publisher  to  try  to  create  best  sellers,  in  this  sense: 
that  they  will  have  to  spend  a  lot  more  money  on  promotion 
with  the  chains.   The  tendency  will  be  to  more  emphasis  on 
the  sale  of  best  sellers  and  a  diminishing  emphasis  on  the 
lesser  books,  which  may  be  far  better  literary  works-- 
usually  are  because  the  general  average,  in  the  United 
States  (or  any  country;  I'm  not  downgrading  the  United 
States)  is  not  literature  per  se  but  a  story,  an  adventure, 
be  it  fiction  or  nonfiction.   But  when  you  get  down  to  liter- 
ature, it  has  to  be  for  the  well-educated  person  and  those 
few  people  who  appreciate  fine  literature.   It  applies  to 
fine  music  as  well,  or  fine  merchandise,  or  fine  art.   It's 
relatively  the  same.   The  popular  is  not  necessarily  the 
best — in  art,  in  music,  or  anything.   So  they're  dropping 
the  fine;  they're  dropping  the  better  because  it  doesn't 
move  fast.   And  the  tendency  will  be  to  shorten  the  list 
of  titles,  the  same  way  that,  say,  Dalton  had  before  the 
Pickwick  policy  went  in.   Of  fifty  titles  that  we  handled, 


maybe  they  would  have  five  out  of  the  fifty.   Why?   Be- 
cause they  didn't  sell  too  fast.   We  would  handle  a  title 
if  it  sold  even  one  a  year.   i  felt  it  was  my  duty. 
They  have  no  such  duty.   They  have  a  duty  only  to  turn- 
over.  And  with  all  that  turnover,  their  profits  are  not 
superior  or  even  close  to  what  we  had  with  a  lesser  turn- 
over.  That  is  in  general  to  talk  about  the  question  of 
what  is  going  to  happen.   But  there  is  an  opportunity  for 
an  individual  store  to  come  in,  an  individual  operator, 
and  gradually  build  up  a  business.   He  has  to  work  like 
hell;  he  has  to  do  the  same  thing  that  I  and  some  others 
did  when  we  built  our  businesses.   It  can  be  done. 
GARDNER:   Well,  what  about  your  own  future? 
EPSTEIN:   Well,  my  future  is  governed  by  numbers,  and  the 
numbers  are  the  number  of  years  in  one's  life.   I'm  pres- 
ently approaching  seventy-three.   I'm  not  planning  to  do 
anything  much  different  from  what  I'm  doing  right  now.  For- 
tunately I  keep  busy  with  a  lot  of  things  I'm  still  inter- 
ested in. 

GARDNER:   I.e.,  buying  books. 

EPSTEIN:   Well,  I  buy  books  if  I  buy  them  cheap  enough, 
[laughter]   I've  sort  of  come  back  to  a  love  that  I've 
really  never  lost:   it's  the  old-book  business,  and  I  like 
to  visit  old-book  stores  and  see  what  I  can  find.   I  visit 
junk  shops,  as  you  know.   I  boast  about  buying  a  book  for 
a  dime  and  selling  it  for  five  dollars  sometimes,  most  of 


the  time  just  putting  it  on  my  shelf  and  forgetting  about 
it,  thinking  it's  worth  a  lot. 

Let's  face  it,  approaching  seventy-three,  you  can't 
plan  too  far  ahead;  but  on  the  other  hand,  I'm  not  planning 
just  to  sit  down  and  sit,  either.   As  long  as  God  gives  me 
strength  and  ability  to  keep  my  mind  going,  I  intend  to  just 
get  around  as  much  as  possible.   As  you  know,  I  work  with 
the  [L.A.]  Library  Association.   We're  planning  an  auction 
for  sometime  next  February  or  March  at  the  [Sotheby]  Parke 
Bernet  galleries.   We've  got  to  find  200  people  who  will 
each  give  us  a  book  or  some  art  object  worth  approximately 
$100.   We're  hoping  to  raise  $20,000.   The  Los  Angeles 
Library  Association's  running  a  book  sale  on  the  lot  at 
the  library  again,  like  they've  done  for  the  last  two  years. 
We've  been  working  on  that.   Oh,  there  are  any  number  of 
people  who  call  me  for  this,  that,  or  the  other.   And  I 
don't  need  as  much  activity  as  I  used  to.   I  still  read 
book  catalogs,  books  about  books.   I  meet  bookmen.   I'm 
very  happy  to  say  that  they're  all  glad  to  see  me.   Really. 
And  we  discuss  a  lot.   One  of  the  most  gratifying  things, 
I  think,  about  the  whole  business  of  being  where  I  am  today 
from  the  route  I  came  through  is  the  fact  that  along  the 
way  I  met  so  many  people,  made  so  many  friends,  who  are 
still  my  friends  and  who  are  always  happy  to  see  me.   I'm 
happy  to  see  them.   They've  always  got  a  question  for  me 
to  answer.   "What  would  you  do  with  this?   What  would  you 


do  with  that?"   And  I  give  them  whatever  advice  I  can, 
for  whatever  it's  worth.   And  amazinqly  some  of  it,  they 
take  and  they  use.   And  if  I  see  them  doing  something 
wrong--which  I  think  they  could  do  better,  let's  put  it 
that  way--I  suggest  it  and  very  often  they  pursue  it. 
There's  that  thing  called  respect  which  I  think  I  have 
from  them.   In  spite  of  the  fact  they  were  all  theoret- 
ically my  competitors,  there  was  never  that  spirit  of 
antagonistic  competition  between  myself  and  any  of  the 
others.   I  think  Mr.  Campbell  will  probably  tell  you  that; 
I  think  Walter  will  tell  you  that.   I  think  even  Lew 
Lengfeld,  who  is  the  most  difficult  person  in  the  book 
business  to  get  along  with--he  and  competitors  don't  nor- 
mally get  along,  but  he  made  an  exception  with  me.   He 
told  me  one  day.   He  came  to  my  farewell  dinner,  retirement 
dinner.   He  said,  "Louis,  you  know,  you're  the  only  guy  I 
would  ever  go  to  a  dinner  like  this  for."   I  said,  "Lew, 
I'm  very  complimented."   I  knew  what  he  was  talking  about. 
He  admits  that  he  doesn't  want  too  much  to  do  with  other 
booksellers--which  is  his  privilege.   I'm  happy  to  have  en- 
joyed that  contact  with  booksellers — in  the  old-book  trade, 
the  new-book  trade.   Occasionally  I'll  meet  a  person  in  the 
bookstore,  and  my  name  will  come  up--somebody  will  mention 
my  name.   And  somebody  will  say,  "Oh,  I've  heard  about  you 
for  years.   I'm  so  happy  to  meet  you."   They've  been  in  the 
trade,  but  they're  younger  in  the  trade.   They'll  say,  "I've 


been  hearing  about  you  for  years."   Well,  that's  not  bad  to 
hear,  really.   I  always  say,  "Well,  I  hope  some  of  it  was 
good."   He  says,  "Oh,  my,  you're  supposed  to  be  the  kingpin." 
Well,  true  or  not,  it's  not  too  bad  to  hear. 

In  closing,  I  have  a  lot  to  be  thankful  for,  a  lot  I'm 
gratified  about:   the  librarians,  the  booksellers,  the  pub- 
lishers, the  book  readers,  the  book  customers.   Writers  from 
all  over  the  world  have  been  through  my  bookstore.   They 
commended  me;  they  found  things  there  that  they  hadn't 
found  anywhere  else.   New  Yorkers,  who  are  the  hardest 
people  to  please  when  they  come  to  California,  express 
amazement  and  surprise  to  find  a  bookstore  of  the  quality 
of  the  Pickwick  here,  later  admitting  that  there  was  no 
such  thing,  no  store  of  that  kind  in  New  York  that  had 
the  kind  of  stock  we  had.   Authors  thanking  me  for  allow- 
ing them  to  browse  because  the  books  were  their  only  friends. 
Like  Elia  Kazan  telling  me  publicly,  in  front  of  a  group  of 
people,  that  I  personally  didn't  know  how  much  that  book- 
store (not  necessarily  me — me,  too,  he  said,  because  I  spoke 
to  him,  I  was  friendly  to  him)  helped  tide  him  over  one  of 
the  worst  periods  in  his  life.   He  says  he  didn't  know  what 
he  would  have  done  if  there  was  no  Pickwick  to  go  to  every 
night,  go  up  there  and  go  through  the  stacks  in  the  old 
books,  picking  up  a  book  and  reading  it.   He  said  he  would 
have  gone  mad,  or  committed  suicide,  or  something.   That 


strong,  is  the  way  he  expressed  it.   Finding  books  they'd 
been  looking  for  for  people,  helping  them  solve  their 
problems.   I've  great  things  to  look  back  on. 



AAA  Bookstore 
A-1  Bookshop 
Abbey  Book  Shop 

Abell,  A.N. 
Abraham  and  Straus, 

Abrams ,  Harry  N. ,  Inc. 
Abramson,  Ben 
Acadia  Book  Shop 

Acres  of  Books 
Adams ,  John  Jay 
Adco  Sports  Book  Exchange 
Agfa  film  agency 
Albert,  Eddie 
Albert,  Margo 

American  Antiquarian  Booksellers 

Southern  California  Chapter 

American  Book  Prices  Current 
American  Booksellers  Association 

American  Civil  Liberties  Union 
American  Retailers  Association 
Ames  family 

Andrews,  Mr.  

Andrews,  Ted 

Antiquarian  Bookman  (periodical) 

Archer,  H.  Richard 

Arco  Publishing  Company 

Argonaut  Book  Shop 



224-225,  230 

420-421,  461, 


70-71,  72 

345,  376 




57-70,  79-80 



155,  157 

199,  218 


39,  42 





477,  505 


463,  469 


561,  563 


19,  411, 








103,  240-241 

211-213,  549 

74,  105,  135 

179,  186-188 

105,  124, 

159,  179 



509,  511-512 




Argosy  Bookshop 
Argus  Bookshop 



298,  487 


Arrowhead  Drinking  Water 
Association  of  College  Bookstores 
August,  Cornelia  Duchon 





Babcock,  Arthur 

Bachman,  J.G. 

Bachman,  Lawrence 

Baker,  Ellis 

Bancroft  Junior  High  School, 

Bank  of  America 

Barbierri  and  Price  Book  Store 
Barr,  Geoffrey 
Bass,  Marie  L. 
Bassett,  F.N. 
Baxter,  Brian 
B.  Dalton,  Bookseller 

Southdale  Shopping  Center  store, 
Bechtold,  Eugene 

Bein,  Barbara 

Bekins  Storage 

Bellows,  George 

Beneficial  Life  Insurance  Company 

Bennett  and  Marshall 

Bennett,  Robert 

Berg  Metals 
Berman,  Gideon 
Berman,  Joe 

Beverly  Hills  Book  and  Record  Shop 
Beverly  Hills  Hotel 
Beverly  Hills  Public  Library 
Biola  (Bible  Institute  of  Los 
Book  Room 
Black,  B. ,  and  Sons 
Blake,  James  D. 
Blatt,  Bertha  G. 
Blatt,  Lucille 
Bloch,  Martin 
Blum,  Burt 
Blum,  Gene 
Blum,  Harry 



231-232,  234 











459,  480 


84,  157 








124,  382- 

384,  400-401 


225,  421,  461 




91-95,  109 

57,  58,  67,  101,  117 

147,  162 

117,  154 


526-529,  531,  534 

264,  403,  408 

403,  408 


448-449,  513 

448-449,  513 

448,  513 


Blum,  Jack 

B'Nai  B'Rith 

Anti-Defamation  League 
B'Nai  B' Rith  Messenger  (newspaper) 
Bobbs-Merrill  Co.,  Inc. 
Bodkin,  John  J. 
Bohn  Library 
Book  Center,  The 
Bookman's  Shop 
Books  in  Print 
Books  in  Review  bookstore 
Bookseller,  The 
Book  Treasury,  The 
Borden,  Manny 
Borden,  Sarah 

Borzon  Books 

Boulevard  Book  and  Art  Shop 

Boutell,  Roger 

Boynton,  Mary 

Bradbury,  Ray 

"How  to  Spend  an  Evening  in  Los 
Bradley,  Tom 
Bramble,  Dave 
Branch,  C.U. 

Braun,  Mr.  

Braun  and  Reinhold  Bookroom 

Brecht,  Bertolt 

Breed  Street  Shul  (Congregation 

Talmud  Torah) ,  Boyle  Heights 
Brentano's  Inc. 

Brier,  Samuel 

Broadway  Department  Stores 

Brown ' s  Book  Shop 

Brown  Derby  Restaurant,  Hollywood 

Brown,  Helen 

Brown,  Herbert  F. 

Brown,  Jack 

Brown,  Phil 

Brush,  Albert 

Bullock's  Department  Stores 

Burbank  Public  Library 

448-449,  513-514, 








409-410,  448,  457 

433,  457-460 






234,  236-238,  488 

234-235,  236-238, 








94-95,  97 







24,  40-41, 

76,  278 

237,  395 


561,  590 


155,  156 

501,  402, 





,  410-411, 
437,  457 








230,  482-484 




94-97,  133-134 


Burch,  John  Q, 
Burke,  Ben 


429,  445-446 

Caler  publications 
Callman,  Ernest 
California  Book  Company 
California  Institute  of  Technology 
Cambridge  Bookshop 
Cambridge  University  Press 
Campbell,  Bob 

Campbell's  Book  Store 

Canterbury  Book  Shop 

Carmack,  Jess 

Carroll,  Joe 

Carter  Hawley  Hale  Stores,  Inc. 

Case,  Frances 

Case,  Jack 

Case  School,  Cleveland 

Case  Western  Reserve  University 

Casey,  Clark 

Castle,  A.D. 

"Cavalcade  of  Books"   (TV  program) 

Cedars  of  Lebanon  Hospital 

see  Cedars-Sinai  Medical  Center 
Cedars-Sinai  Medical  Center 
Chadwick,  Isaac  E. 
Chaffee,  Bill 
Chandler,  Raymond 
Chapin,  Herb 
Chaplin,  Charlie 
Chaplin,  Oona  O'Neill 
Charney,  King 
Chase,  Denny 
Chase,  Mrs.  Denny 
Cherokee  Book  Shop 
Chevalier,  Joe 
Christian,  Peggy 
Chudikoff  family 
City  of  Hope 

Claremont  Book  and  Art  Shop 
Clark,  Arthur  H. 




115-116,  140,  457 


437,  442, 



340,  341 

571,  573 























76,  598 
















76,  196 



226,  480-481 




(Mark  Twain) 

Dealer  (newspaper) 

Clemens,  Samuel 

Tom  Sawyer 
Clemente,  Nick 
Cleveland,  June 
Cleveland  Plain 
Coca-Cola  of  Los  Angeles 
Cohen,  Bob 
Cohn,  Kaspare 
Cohn  family 

Cole,  Barbara  (Mrs.  John) 
Cole,  John 
Cole's  Book  and  Craft  Shop 

La  Jolla 
College  Book  Company 
Collier ' s  Encyclopedia 
CoTumbia  University 
Communist  party,  USA 

Connoisseur  Bookshop 
Corey,  George 
Corsello,  Frank 
Craft,  Robert 
Cramer,  Leslie 
Cramer,  Nate 
Creeley,  Bunster 
Crown  Publishers,  Inc. 
Curio  Book  Shop 

Curtis,  Paul 

108,  156 






546-548,  549 


77,  597-598 
















394,  553 






433,  457 

Dahlstrom,  Fredrick 
Dale,  Harry 

Dalinsky,  Celia 
Dalton,  B.,  Bookseller 

see  B.  Dalton,  Bookseller 

Davidson,  Mr.  

Dawley,  Jack 
Dawson,  Ernest 

Dawson,  Glen 
Dawson,  Muir 


427,  448 

143,  409-410, 
457,  463 

262,  263 


59,  61,  98,  104, 

107,  108,  123-125, 

140,  143,  156,  255, 


61,  107,  462,  504, 

511,  518 

61,  107,  143,  462, 



Dawson's  Book  Shop 

Dayton,  Bruce 
Dayton,  Kenneth 
Dayton-Hudson  Corporation 

Deighton,  Lillian 
Dellquest,  A.W. 
Democratic  party 
De  Vorss,  Douglas 
De  Vorss  and  Company 
Dial/Delacorte  Press 
Diamond,  Sid 

Diaz-Garcia,  Mr.  

Dietrich,  Marie 

Dietrich,  Marlene 

Dillon,  John 

Dillon,  Mrs.  John 

Dillon  Bookshop 

Dir,  Mel 

Dodd,  Mead  &  Co. 

Dodger  Stadium 

Doering,  Al 

Doheny,  Mrs.  Edward  L. 

Doheny  family 

Don  the  Beachcomber,  Hollywood 

Dore,  Gustave 

Doubleday  and  Company,  Inc. 

Dreiser,  Theodore 
Duchon,  Morris 
Duchon,  Rose  Epstein 

Duffy,  Joe 

Dutton,  E.P.,  &  Co.,  Inc 
Dysinger,  Marjorie 


58,  59,  61,  69, 
104,  114,  123- 
,  128,  143,  156, 



461-462,  488 



553,  578 

624,  628 



362,  471-472 







302,  305-307 










174,  308 


346,  351, 

525,  542, 

560,  561 

327,  331 

58,  207 


605,  608- 



3,  8,  12, 

181,  220 



411,  535 


27,  29 

581,  583, 


East  Tech  High  School,  Cleveland 
Eaton,  Lou 

Edmunds,  Larry,  Cinema  and  Theatre 

Book  Shop 
Edmunds,  Mrs.  Larry 

30,  32 


189,  432-433,  473, 




Ehrlich,  Cema  Epstein 

Eisenhower,  Dwight  D. 
Elder,  Paul,  &  Company,  San 

Ellis  Island,  New  York 
Elstein,  Herbert 
Elstein,  Saul 
Elstein,  Steve 
Embassy  Auditorium 
Encyclopedia  Britannica 
Encyclopedia  of  Music  (Thomson) 
Epstein,  Aaron 

Epstein,  Ann  Goldman 

Epstein,  Ben 

Epstein,  Cema 

see  Ehrlich,  Cema  Epstein 
Epstein,  Eugene 

Epstein,  Lillian  (Mrs, 

Epstein,  Morris 

Epstein,  Moses 

Epstein,  Mrs.  Moses 

Epstein,  Reuben 


8,  27-28, 

102,  181 


80,  202 

14,  112 

















18,  46, 

89,  98-99, 

166,  182 
221,  266 
310,  313 
357,  369 
556,  565 
607,  616 
73,  7 



89,  100, 
133,  164- 
295,  309, 
485,  555, 
573,  588, 

8,  12, 
27,  31 
40,  43 



i,  83, 





,  32, 
,  44, 







,  187 



192-193,  194- 




328,  357 
621,  622 


34,  195-196 




2-3,  7,  8, 

17,  20-21, 

27,  30-31, 

12,  27,  31,  218 

13,  16- 




Epstein,  Reuben  [cont'd] 

Epstein,  Sprishe  Sorkin 

Epstein,  Yetta  (Helen) 

Epstein's  Book  Shop 

see  Acadia  Book  Shop 

Long  Beach  Book  Store 
Epstein's,  Louis,  Book  Shop,  Long 

Epstein's,  Louis,  Book  Shop,  Los 


Essex  Institute 

Everybody's  Used  Book,  Music,  & 
Magazine  Shop 

40-42,  44,  47,  48- 

50,  80,  111,  135- 

136,  149,  159,  164, 

168-169,  219-222, 

271,  278,  296 

3,  7-8,  16,  34-35, 

38,  42,  149,  159, 

164-165,  181,  219, 


3,  12,  27,  32,  38, 

40,  46,  181,  197 














81-86,  90-98 

106,  109- 
115,  121,  124, 
158,  159,  163- 
172a,  182-184, 
201,  241,  255, 
297,  303, 

382,  396 


Factor,  Max 

Fanny  Hill  (Cleland) 

Farrar  Rinehart 

Faulkner,  William 

Federated  Department  Stores 

Feldman,  Dan 

Feuchtwanger ,  Lion 

Feuchtwanger ,  Marta 

Field,  Irwin 

Figueroa  Bookshop 

Firestein,  Max 

Fiske,  Verne 

Fitzgerald,  F.  Scott 

Flax,  M. ,  Inc . 

Folio,  The,  Book  Shop 

Ford  Motor  Corporation 

Fowler  Brothers,  Inc. 







355,  356 





385,  386 
51,  62, 

114,  116 


Fowler  Brothers  [cont'd] 

Fowler,  Ward 

Foy,  Eddie 

Freedman,  Louis 

Freeson,  Lee 

Freeson,  Margo 

Friend,  John 

Friends  of  the  UCLA  Library 

Front,  Theodore 













61,  124 



153,  157 






Gable,  Clark 
Gallaher,  P.W. 
Cans,  Mr, 

Cans'  Book  Store 
Gardiner,  Harry 
Gardner  Avenue  School 
Garland,  W.M. 
Gaskill,  Betty 
Gateway  to  Music 
Gertzwey,  F. 
Getz,  Ben 
Getz,  Robert  E. 

Gibson,  James  Patterson 

Gilbert,  Eddie 

Gilbert,  Eddie,  Bookstore 

Gladstone,  Milton 

Goha  the  Fool  (Ades  and  Jasapovicha) 

Golden  Bough  Bookstore 

Goldenberg,  Roy 

Goldfaden,  Goodwin 

Goldstone,  Phil 

Goldwater,  Pearl 

Goiter,  Irma 

Goiter,  Rose 

Goiter,  Sam 

Gone  with  the  Wind  (film) 

Goodhand,  Hazel  B. 

Goodhand,  Milton 

Goodwill  Industries 

Gordon,  Mary 

Gordon,  Nicholas  McDowell  ("Mac") 

Gordon,  Mrs.  Nicholas 


67,  101,  147-148 






597,  599 

597-607,  609-610, 



206,  420 







274-275,  281 

156,  202 




302,  406-407 



54,  68,  148 


136-137,  153a,  166- 

168,  206,  433 



Gordon,  Wilmot 
Gore,  Marian  L. 
Gottlieb,  Ernest 

Grady,  Mr.  

Grosset  & 

Dunlap,  Inc, 
Arthur  S. 
Guild  Rental  Library 
Gutenberg  Bible 



451,  477-478 



557,  560 





Hagen,  Dick 

Hall,  Floyd 

Hall  of  Fame  Bookshop 

Halle  family 

Harcourt,  Brace,  Jovanovich,  Inc. 

Hardy,  Georgiana 

Hardy,  Jack 

Harelick,  M. 

Harelick  and  Roth,  Booksellers 

Harkema,  Lloyd 

Harlem  Book  Company 

Harline,  Lee 

Harline,  Mrs.  Lee 

Harper  &  Row,  Publishers,  Inc. 

Harris,  Doris,  Autographs 

Harvard  University 

Haverlin,  Carl 

Healy,  Ray 

Hearst,  William  Randolph 

Hebrew  Immigrant  Aid  Society 
Hellman  family 
Henry ' s  Camera 
Heritage  Book  Shop 
Hewitt's  Book  Store 
Hiawatha  (Longfellow) 
Hill,  Fred 
Hill,  Harry 
Hillside  Park 
Hirsch,  Berril 
Hispano-American  Book  Shop 
History  of  Costume  (Racinet) 
Hitler,  Adolf 
















482,  484 



559,  572 



112,  489 


344,  347, 



41,  125, 



56,  229 












408,  438- 


555,  557 

349,  350, 


267,  280-281, 


Hixon,  Charlie 

Hoffman  Buick 

Hollander,  Bea 

Hollander  and  Davidson  Fine  Books 

Hollingsworth,  G.F. 

Hollywood  Anti-Nazi  League 

Hollywood  Book  Shop 

Hollywood  Bowl 
Hollywood  High  School 
Hollywood  Ten 
Hollywood  Wax  Museum 
Holmes,  Harold 
Holmes,  Norman  C. 

Holmes  Book  Company,  Los  Angeles 

Holmes  Book  Company,  San  Francisco 
Holt,  Rinehart  &  Winston,  Inc. 
Home  of  Peace  Memorial  Park  and 

Hood,  Leslie 
Hoover,  Herbert 
Horan,  C.F.,  Bookstore 
Hotel  Acacia 
Houghton-Mifflin  Company 

House  of  Whites 

Howard,  Miss  

Howell,  Fran 
Howes,  Wright 
Howey,  Ralph 
How  to  Win  Friends 

and  Influence 

People  (Carnegie) 
Hoyt,  Larry,  family 
Hunley,  Max 
Hunley  Theatre 
Hunt,  Pat 
Hunter ' s  Books 
Huxley,  Aldous 
Huxley,  Julian 
Huxley,  Laura 
Huxley,  Matthew 
Huxley  family 













307,  470 











126-127,  128 
59-61,  64-65, 
126-136,  148- 
224-225,  255, 
296,  298,  405, 
463,  482,  504 
126-136,  238, 
65,  126-127 

573,  594 




227,  415-417,  525, 






78-79,  159,  163 



451,  455,  477 

215,  609 







Immaculate  Heart  College  337-339 

Information,  Please  (radio  program)  219 

Ingraham,  Mr. 141 

International  Bookfinders  523 

Intro,  Sol  292 

Iron  Curtain  over  America  (Beatty)       359 

Isherwood,  Christopher  335 


Jamison,  David 
Jeffers,  Robinson 

The  Californian 
Jenkins,  Colonel 
Jenkins,  Mr. 

Jewish  American  Book  Shop 

Jewish  Consumptive  Relief  Associa- 
tion of  Los  Angeles 

Jewish  Federation  Council  of 
Greater  Los  Angeles 

Jewish  Home  for  the  Aged 

Johannes  Secundus 

John  Birch  Society 

Johnson,  Charlie 
Johnson,  Mrs.  Charlie 
Jones  Book  Stores 

Jordan-Smith,  Paul 
Julian,  C.C. 








403,  408,  433 

76,  196,  277 
75,  279 

76,  277 


360-362,  470- 





62-63,  116,  117, 

140,  150,  152-153, 


118,  464 


Kahn,  Alan 
Kaplan,  Carolyn 
Kaspare  Cohn  Hospital 

see  Cedars-Sinai  Medical  Center 
Kates,  Arthur 
Katzev,  Johiel 
Kazan,  Elia 
Kellogg,  George 
Kent,  Rockwell 
Klein,  Keith 
Klein,  Lloyd 
Klein,  Robert 
Klein,  Robert,  Jr. 












Klonsky,  Robert 
Knight,  Goodwin 
Knopf,  Alfred  A.,  Inc. 
Kohn,  Dave 
Kohn,  "Soldier  Joe" 
Korach  Company,  Chicago 
Kosick,  Helen 

Kovach,  Mr.  

Kovach,  Nick  A. 

Kubel,  Phil 
Kurman,  Eleanor 
Kurman,  Stanley 
Kuttner,  Henry 
Kuttner,  Paul 



525,  551 




560,  561 









268,  433 

482,  488- 


Lacey,  Madison 
Lafayette  Escadrille 
Lamport,  Paul 

Lanchester,  Elsa 
Larson,  John  R. 
Larson,  Louise  (Mrs. 
Larson's  Bookshop 
Latting,  Ben 
Laughton,  Charles 
Lawrence,  Wes 
Lawyer,  David 
Lawyer,  Harry 
Lazard  family 
Lazarus,  Mr. 


Lee  Drug  Company 
Lengfeld,  Lew 
Leonard,  C.C. 
Leonard,  Elliot 

Leonard's  Bookstore 
Leusler,  Harrison 



Mrs.  Abe 

Levinson,  Harry 
Levinson,  Mrs.  Harry 
Lewis  family 
Lewis  Bookstore 



207-208,  368-370, 



421,  497-498 



377,  379 






















616,  620 



455,  477 


Life  (periodical) 

Lillie,  Mildred  L. 

Lincoln,  Abraham 

Lincoln  Bookshop 

Lippincott,  J.B.,  Co. 

Little,  A.E. 

Little,  Brown  &  Co. 

Lofland,  Fred 

Lofland  and  Russell  Bookstore 

London  Times  Literary  Supplement 

Long  Beach  Book  Store 
Long  Beach  Press-Telegram 

Lord,  R.C. 

Los  Angeles  Daily  News  (newspaper) 
Los  Angeles  Examiner  (newspaper) 
Los  Angeles  Library  Association 
Los  Angeles  News  (newspaper) 
Los  Angeles  News  Company 
Los  Angeles  Philharmonic  Orchestra 
Los  Angeles  Public  Library 

Los  Angeles  Times  (newspaper) 

Lovejoy,  Dr. 

Luboviski,  Milton 




419-420,  467 

538,  542,  559 



139,  350 

51,  58,  69,  139,  255, 

350,  414,  417 


51-57,  228-230,  252 

153a.  164 


Luboviski,  Mrs, 
Lyon's  Storage 













432,  464, 





552,  560 

109,  120, 

118,  137, 

241,  347 



,  464 

492,  493, 


McCarty  Company 
McCarthy,  Joseph 
McCullough,  Bill 
MacDonald,  Bob 
McDowell,  Jack 
McGilvery,  Laurence 
McGraw-Hill  Book  Co. 
Maclntyre,  Carlyle 
Mack  family 

McKay,  David,  Co.,  Inc. 
Macmillan  Company,  The 

McPherson,  Aimee  Semple 















525,  531-533, 


Maher,  Bill 
Mahler,  Alma 
Handle,  Sol 
Handle,  Mrs.  Sol 
Mann,  Herman 

Mann,  Thomas 
Markowitz,  David 
Markowitz,  Morris 
Markowitz,  Sarah 

see  Borden,  Sarah 
Marriner,  Willard 

Marriner's  Stationers  and  Bookseller 
Marshall,  Richard 

Marshall  Field  &  Company 
Martindale,  Etta  L.  (Mrs.  Walter  W. ) 
Marindale,  Richard 

Martindale,  Virginia  (Mrs.  VJalter) 
Martindale,  Walter 

Martindale,  Walter  W. 
Martindale,  William 
Martindale  family 
Martindale 's  Book  Stores,  Inc. 

Martindale ' s ,  William,  Book  Store, 

Santa  Monica 
Maxton,  Ron 
May  Company 

Melander,  Kurt 

Merriam,  G.  &  C,  Company 


Meyer,  Eldred 

Miller,  Jesse  Ray 

Miller,  Joni 

Miller,  Paul  Burt 

Miller's  Books  and  Stationery 

Mirsky,  E. 
Mitchell,  Ed 
Mitchell,  Joe 
Mittenthal,  Joe 
Moby  Dick  Book  Shop 




176,  345-347,  350, 




234-236,  269 



103-104,  124 

384,  400-401 



230,  398 
399,  400 

231,  395 
426,  563 


573,  611, 


230,  398 










155,  156 

360,  544 




389,  484 




















264,  407 


Modern  Library  (Random  House) 

Mohr,  Richard 

Mohr,  Mrs.  Richard 

Morrow,  William,  &  Co. ,  Inc. 

Moss,  Ted 

Mottola,  Jim 

Musso  &  Frank  Grill 





308,  330 


Nash,  Charles 
Natick  Book  Store 
National  Book  Award 
National  Book  Week 
National  Cash  Registers 
National  Geographic  (periodical) 
Natural  History  (Pliny) 
Needham,  Ida 

Needham,  Wilbur 

Needham  Book  Finders 

Neuman,  Walter  E. 

Neville  Book  Company 

Newbegin's,  San  Francisco 

Newmark,  Harris 

Newmark  family 

New  York  Bookstore 

New  York  Herald  Tribune  (newspaper) 

New  York  Times  (newspaper) 

Nielsen,  O.C. 

Nin,  Anais 

Nixon,  Richard 


Novins , 




Jim,  Jr. 


Mrs.  Roman 

Noyes,  Dick 
Noyes,  Mrs.  Dick 
Nussbaum,  Max 









432,  464, 

473,  492 






80,  202 


77,  598 



19,  596 

263,  400 




550,  551, 


550,  551, 

469,  472- 














O'Connor,  Bill 
O'Connor,  C.H. 
O'Connor,  Frank 



98-101,  110 


O'Dell,  Scott 

O'Hara,  George 

Ohio  Jobbing  Company 

Ohio  State  University 

Menorah  Society 
Order  of  the  Coif 

Old  Book  Shop 

O'Leary,  Jack 

Olive  Street  Synagogue 

One  (periodical) 

O'Neill,  Eugene 

Open  Book  Shop 

Orth,  Mr.  

Orth  Storage 

Osborne's  Book  Store,  Santa 

Otis  Art  Institute 

Outlet  Publishing  Company 

Oxford  University  Press 


561,  575-576 


















39,  222 

404,  427 

Paddock,  Paddy 

Paradise  Book  and  Stationery  Shop 

Paramount  Studios 

Parker,  C.C. 

Pegue,  Unity 

Pelican  Books 

Penguin  Books 

Penguin  Bookshop 

People's  Bookstore 

Perkins,  P.D. 

Perkins,  P.D.  and  lone,  bookstore 

Phipps,  Fillmore 

Pick,  Richard  J. 

Pick's  Book  Shop 

Pickwick  Book  Shop,  Hollywood 



51,  62, 

301,  302- 

67,  116 

157,  203,  260 

118-119,  120,  145 










5,  37,  47-49,  55, 

65,  106-107,  118, 

140,  144,  146-147, 

153a,  165,  172a, 

174-176,  191,  194- 


200-218,  264, 
287,  294-394, 
412,  414-417, 
420,  423,  424- 
439-440,  465- 
499-500,  519, 


Pickwick  Book  Shop,  Hollywood 

Bakersf ield 



San  Bernardino 

San  Diego  (Mission  Valley 

Topanga  Plaza 
see  also  B.  Dalton,  Bookseller 
Pickwick  Papers,  The  (Dickens) 
Pike,  Jim 
Pinans,  Juan 
Pinans,  Mrs.  Juan 
Pioneer  Bookshop 
Placht,  Karl 
Ponger,  Eddie 
Pottenger,  Francis  M. 
Poulson,  Norris 
Powell,  Lawrence  Clark 

Vroman' s  of  Pasadena  (book) 
Powner ' s  Bookstore 

Prentice-Hall,  Inc. 

Price,  Tone 

Pritchard,  Virginia  Cole 


Publisher' s  Weekly  (periodical) 

Putnam's,  G.P.,  Sons 


Rabalette  News  and  Book  Agency 
Random  House,  Inc. 

Raymar  Book  Company 
Red  Arrow  Service 
Reese,  Mr. 

Reiser,  Marie  (Mrs.  Sam) 

Reiser,  Sam 

Reiser,  Sam,  Bookstore 
Reiser,  Samuel,  Bookseller 
Republican  party 
Research  Magazine  and  Book  Shop 
Retail  Clerks  International 
Association,  Local  777 

563,  565, 


581,  587, 








597-606,  607,  608 






410-411,  561,  590 




82,  123,  250 








55,  56-57 

199,  574, 


58,  136-137 



536,  546-548 








185,  186-187 



218,  231 











Reynolds,  Bill 
Reynolds,  Jack  E. 
Ripley,  Elizabeth 
Ritchie,  Ward,  Press 
Robinson,  Edward  G. 
Robinson's  department  store 

Rogart,  Geof 
Rogers,  Warren 
Rogers  Book  Shop 
Roosevelt,  Franklin  D. 

Rose,  Mr.  

Rose,  Stanley 

Rose,  Mrs.  Stanley 
Rose,  Stanley,  bookstore 

Ross,  Lillian 
Rossen,  Charlie 
Roth,  Jack 
Royer,  Mel 

Rubber,  Viola 
Rubin,  Mel 
Ruby,  John 
Ruick,  Virgil 
Russell,  Mr. 
Russo,  Tony 






138,  155-156,  410, 







153a,  166-168,  169- 

179,  189,  201,  205- 

206,  224,  257,  261, 

336,  413 

173-174,  179 

168,  171-172a,  205- 





64,  217, 

452,  477, 









St.  Vibiana's 

Salop,  Mr.  

Salop,  Max 
Salop,  Morris 

Salop,  Mrs.  Morris 
Salvation  Army 
Salzman,  Charles 
Samuels,  Louis 
Saroyan,  William 
Satyr  Book  Shop 

Schuberg,  Bill 
Schulberg,  Budd 
Schwarz,  Kurt 
Schwarz,  Martha 




266-267,  270 

266-267,  268,  269- 



54,  148 

442,  491-492 



136-137,  153a,  166, 

168,  200,  205,  206, 

231,  433 



455-457,  524 




Schwarz,  Thomas 

Scioscia,  Frank 

Scott,  Adrian 

Scott,  Lee 

Scribner ' s  Book  Store,  New  York 

Scribner's,  Charles,  Sons 

Scripps  family 

Sears  Roebuck 

Selznick,  David 

Senn,  Milton 

Serisawa,  Nakuro 

Severe,  Gladys  (Mrs,  Lloyd) 

Severe,  Lloyd 

Shafer,  Isadore 

Shelton,  Dickson  L. 

Shelton,  Harry 

Sheppard,  Mullin,  Richter,  Baltnis 

&  Hampton 
Shorey  Book  Store,  Seattle 
Shuman,  Bill 
Shuman,  Mrs.  Bill 
Simon,  Norton 
Simon  and  Schuster,  Inc. 
Sinaiko,  Isaac 
Sinaiko,  Joan 
Sinaiko,  Ruth 
Singer  Company,  The 
Sister  Mary  Faith 
Smalley,  Carl 
Smith,  Bertrand 
Smith,  Bill 
Smith,  Gerald  L.K. 
Smith,  Harry 
Smith,  Olen  W. 
Smith,  Ron 

Smith,  Roy see 
Smith,  Wilbur  J. 
Soldier  Joe 

see  Kohn,  "Soldier  Joe" 
Solomon,  E. 
Solomon's  Hebrew  and  English 

Sorkin,  Itzchak 
Sorkin,  Mrs.  Itzchak 
Sotheby  Parke  Bernet 


394,  560 












402,  572 

401,  402-403,  412, 

571,  572 


81,  165-166,  183 




53,  252-257 













48,  559, 











433,  438 




Southern  California  Booksellers 

Membership  Committee 
Publicity  Committee 
Publishers  Relations  Committee 
Southern  California  Historical 

Spanish  Bookstore 

Sparkletts  Drinking  Water  Corpora- 
Spearman's  bookstore 
Specialist,  The  (Sale) 
S.S.  Cedric  (ship) 
Stackhouse,  Ed  ("Stack") 

Stansberry,  Ray 

Stansberry,  Mrs.  Ray 

Steinbeck,  John 

Steinberg,  Bill 

Stevenson,  Peggy 

Stevenson,  Robert 

Storm,  John 

Storm,  Mrs.  John 

Strassberg,  Max 

Stratford  and  Greene  bookstore 

Straude,  Odo 
Stravinsky,  Igor 
Stravinsky,  Vera 
Strieker,  Thomas  Perry 
Stuart,  Errett 
Stuart,  Jeff 
Stuart,  Terry 
Studio  Bookstore 
Sunset  News  Company 


402,  412 





444,  486-487 




130,  131 

296,  313 

341,  342 




415,  416 

616,  619 










62-63,  140,  150- 

151,  163 




106-108,  112 

544-545,  550-551 




48,  172a 


Taylor,  Joseph  H. 

Frontier  and  Indian  Life 
Technical  Book  Company 
Tecolote  Bookshop,  Santa  Barbara 
Temple  Beth  Am 
Temple  Beth  El 
Temple  Israel 


263,  444-445, 




77,  276-279 



Temple  Sinai 

Thomas,  Jessie 

Thompson,  Guy 

Thor ' s  Book  and  Magazine  Shop 

Todd,  John  W. ,  Jr. 

To  Have  and  to  Hold  (Johnson) 

Twentieth  Century-Fox  Studios 









Union  Bank 

United  Jewish  Welfare  Fund 

United  States  Bank 

U.S.  Constitution 

U.S.  Federal  Trade  Commission 

U.S.  Supreme  Court 

University  of  California, 

University  of  California,  Los 


Special  Collections,  Library 
University  of  Oklahoma  Press 
University  of  Paris 
University  of  Southern  California 








277,  278 
















324,  475 


Valentine,  John 
Varousis,  Mr. 

Ver  Brugge,  Josephine 

Ver  Brugge  Books 

Verne's  Hollywood  Book  Shop 

Viking  Press 

Vista  Del  Mar 

Vosper,  Robert 

Vroman's  bookstore 


265-266,  404,  501 



525,  545,  551 



138,  210,  250-251, 

401-402,  423,  542- 

543,  549,  563,  571- 

572,  573,  594 


Wahrenbrock,  Bill 
Walden  bookstores 
Walker,  Max 
Walker  Book  Shop 

254-255,  256 
609,  625,  626 


268,  457 


Wallace,  Jim 

Ward,  Esrae 

Warner  Brothers 

Warner  Brothers  Records 

Warren,  Earl 

Washington  Post  (newspaper) 

Watson-Guptill  Publications 

Weatherby,  Allan 

Webb,  Bill 

Weil,  Albert 

Weinstein,  Ben 




Weinstein , 

Weiss , 
We  i  s  s , 
Weisz , 
Weisz , 
Weisz , 



Mrs.  David 

Wepplo,  Harry,  Bookstore 

Werfel,  Franz 

Westerners,  Los  Angeles  Corral 

Wettereau,  Robert 

Wettereau,  Mrs.  Robert 

Wheeler,  Mr.  

Wheeler,  Allan  H. 

Wheeler  Publishing  Company 

Whiffin,  C.U. 

White,  Miss  

White,  Mr,  

Whittier  Book  Shop 
Wilkie,  Bob 
Williams  College 
Wilson,  Edmund 

Memoirs  of  Hecate  County 

Wolfe,  Thomas 

Woodruff,  Raymone  (Mrs.  Stu) 

Woodruff,  Stu 

Woodfurr  Book  Store 

World  Book  Company 

World  Health  Organization 

World  News  Company 

World  Publishing  Company 

Wright,  Frank  Lloyd 


145,  153a 



364,  472 



412-413,  414,  432 

83,  557-558 








168,  169 






















414,  420 

354,  375 


555-556,  561 


Yale,  Bud  (Charlie,  Jr.) 
Yale,  Charlie 

Ye  Olde  Book  Shoppe,  Long  Beach 

Ye  Olde  Book  Shoppe,  San  Diego 

Yorty,  Sain 

Yost,  Otis 

Young  Men's  Christian  Association 

61,  124, 
479,  483 

366,  369 
179,  184 


502,  504, 


Zainboni ,  Karl 
Zamboni,  Mrs.  Karl 
Zeitlin,  Jake 

Zeitlin,  Edith  (Mrs.  Jake) 
Zeitlin,  Jean  (Mrs.  Jake) 
Zeitlin,  Josephine  Ver  Brugge 

(Mrs.  Jake) 
Zilberstein,  Oscher 
Zweig,  Arnold 






230,  482,  484 






1,  107 








404,  501 







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